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New Montana Tech rocket club blasts off

Posted at 9:07 AM, Mar 12, 2024

TWIN BRIDGES — Montana Tech’s very first rocketry club is out in the middle of nowhere to get certified in rocketry and they are going to participate in their very first competition this spring. And if you ask them if this is challenging, they’ll tell you—well, it is rocket science.

Three, two, one…

“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always just loved space and I’ve always done science fairs and I’ve always loved it and I think it’s really fitting I’m now trying to be an aerospace engineer,” said Montana Tech student Aurora Beplate.

Members of the Butte college’s American Indian and Sciences Engineering Society received a grant to start the rocketry club last fall and will participate in the First Nations Launch High-Power Rocket Competition held in Wisconsin in April. Aurora had to get certified in high-powered rocketry by performing a successful launch in a rural area west of Twin Bridges recently.

“Lots of technicalities to it and we have to make sure that our rocket’s safe, so we don’t, you know, cause a disaster here,” said Beplate.

Many members of the club are Native American and are proud to be part of this project.

“Makes it feel very fulfilling that we’re presenting the Native side of Montana Tech and rocketry,” said Lance Morten.

The club’s mentor, Steve Shannon, who has been running Big Sky Rocketry for more than 20 years enjoys teaching the young students.

“I was born in ’55 and watched all the Mercury flights and the Gemini flights and Apollo flights, so it’s as close as I’ll ever come to that,” said Shannon.

Aurora’s flight was a success and she earned her certification.

“There was a little bit of worry about the parachute; it didn’t go off right at apogee, and right at apogee it was kind of flying down without the parachute, but luckily it broke apart,” said Beplate.

She’s excited to represent Montana Tech at the competition.

“I love Montana Tech, it’s my absolute favorite place to be at all times. I think it’s an opportunity of a lifetime that we have this awesome competition that we’re a part of,” said Beplate.