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Two UI students traveling to Norway for rocket school

A student-built rocket is launched to the edges of space (photo courtesy of Andøya Space Center).

It's fun.

It's cool.

It's rocket school.

Two University of Iowa undergrads and assistant physics professor David Miles are traveling 4,000 miles to Norway, where the Hawkeye students will take part in an intensive program focused on building, launching, and analyzing a rocket.

The process for successfully setting up and completing a rocket mission typically takes between five and 15 years.

The students will have four days.

In many ways, sophomore astronomy major Hannah Gulick is continuing a tradition at the University of Iowa.

Physicist James Van Allen served as a professor at Iowa beginning in 1951, and in his decades of work, he left a legacy of leadership in space exploration.

"My dream is to be a researching astrophysicist," said Gulick. "To have this opportunity to do a campaign within four days and experience everything that goes into building a rocket, the design, the actual building of it, the launch and then the data analysis, it's just invaluable experience for what I plan to do in the future."

Already operating on a tight deadline, Professor Miles was quick to point out the added pressure of the fact that in rocket science, "you only get one chance."

The two Hawkeye undergrads will join 18 other students (some from Canada, others from Norway), becoming the first American students to participate in the program.

"A lucky student will actually get to push the launch button," said Gulick with a smirk, "which I'm hoping will be me, but we'll see."

While this is the University's first year participating in the program, Miles said he's aiming to make this an annual opportunity.


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