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Rocket Launch

Students to Launch

How It Started

In early 2023, NDGTS started an extraordinary journey with Students To Launch for an experience of a lifetime. Students To Launch, powered by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), collaborates with informal education institutions nationwide to serve as a “hub” for middle school students, engaging them in fun activities and events. These include hands-on, role-playing challenges to complete NASA-inspired missions in small teams, guided by program leaders known as Mission Directors. Our hub was located in Flasher, ND! The middle school students successfully tackled their mission: developing astro socks designed to protect astronauts’ feet during space missions. Upon completing their training, they earned the remarkable opportunity to qualify for a multi-day launch center experience at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and the KSC Visitor Complex in Florida.

This Summer


Fast forward a year and a half later, the moment had arrived to journey to Florida! Education Directors Hope Burdolski and Alisha Kelim, accompanied by Communications Manager Quinn Deibert, led a group of 31 students and 3 chaperones from Flasher, ready for an out-of-this-world experience from June 24-26.

After a full day of travel, the group safely arrived at Cape Canaveral, Florida. On the morning of the 25th, they boarded buses and headed directly to the Kennedy Space Center. The day kicked off with VIP tours of the space center, featuring close-up views of the crawlers used to transport rockets to the launch site, an insider’s look at the Vehicle Assembly Building, and a bus tour passing by the launch sites! Did you know it takes 10 HOURS to move a rocket from the assembly building to the launch site?!

Following the VIP tour, the group participated in workshops throughout the Visitor Complex. Afterward, it was time for the main event – LAUNCH TIME! The group boarded buses and made their way to the Banana Creek Viewing Site, eagerly taking their seats and awaiting liftoff. The launch was successful! The group witnessed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s (NOAA) GOES-U weather satellite lift off into space via SpaceX rocket boosters. GOES-U will spend the next 15 years tracking atmospheric measurements in the western hemisphere, providing real-time maps of lightning activity, and monitoring solar activity and space weather.

The trip concluded with a relaxing evening at Cocoa Beach before the journey back home.