MHS teacher, students take part in rocket launch

A thunderous rumble could be heard on the east side of Marshalltown Thursday morning.

It was the result of a successful rocket launch by a Marshalltown High School physics teacher, two MHS graduates and one current student.

The launch was set up after months of work by the students and teacher, Michael Haigh.

“The result was pretty cool,” said Isaac Medina, who will be a senior this fall at MHS. “To see the launch up close was a good experience.”

The rocket is also part of the Marshalltown Aerospace Research Society led by Haigh. He said the rocket is 9 feet tall and weighs 20 pounds.

It was launched from a farm just off Shady Oaks Road. Its journey Thursday took the rocket 5,479 feet into the air with a high speed of 469 miles an hour. It came sailing back to the ground in two separate pieces with two separate parachutes.

Haigh had to get approval from the FAA, and have clear skies and wind speeds of less than 10 miles an hour to launch the rocket. He said before the flight the rocket could either explode, crash or land safely. He was happy it was the last option Thursday.

“I was very happy with the engine performance,” Haigh said.

Recent MHS graduate Ben Anzis had three words after the launch.

“That was awesome,” he said.

Haigh said working on the rockets and preparing for the launch really piques the interest of students.

“It seems to hold their attention,” he said.

He also said it coincides with the MHS push toward technology as part of Project Lead the Way.

Haigh has been launching rockets with students on and off for the past 17 years, but this was the first one launched with a bigger engine.

“The fuel is similar to what is in solid rocket boosters on the space shuttle,” Haigh said.