Hitting bull's eye on the ground with water rockets

Hitting bull's eye on the ground with water rockets

For those young, wannabe scientists, hitting a ground-based bull's eye  was nothing but rocket science. Their skills sharpened by weeks of  intense practice, the students from 12 Asia-Pacific countries had  their water rocket launchers ready to go. The battle of trajectories  was about to heat up.  

Hosted by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the contest  was about playing with water pressure, mastering the trajectory and  releasing the rocket for a perfect landing. The rocket, devised with  two pet bottles and cardboard fins, had to cover an 80-metre distance  at just the right angle.  The line-up at the NAL Kendriya Vidyalaya grounds here had student  teams from India and Japan, Indonesia and Cambodia. They had their  flair for amateur rocketry fine-tuned, their teachers and observers in  attendance.  

The event, a part of the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum  (APRSAF-24), was clearly aimed at boosting that appetite for space  exploration and rocketry. But mastery over trajectory was the Sunday  test. Precision flight was the name of the game.  Rockets that landed closest to the bull's eye earned the loudest  cheers. For, they deserved the highest points. Noayana Moto, a 9th  grader from Ota city in Japan, was aiming for just that. He had been  rehearsing for months for this big event, now in its 24th year.  

It was not exactly rapid fire.

But the rockets were being launched in  quick succession. In those tense few minutes, the competitors had much  to do: Adjust the water volume in every rocket, check the air  pressure, the launch angle and get that direction right before launch.  The air pressure could not exceed 4 bars.  Not everyone could get it right. For Keam Vong Vreak, a Cambodian 10th  grader, the 2.5-litre bottles used for the rocketry were clearly a  miscalculation. Back in Phnom Penh, he had rehearsed with 1.5-litre  bottles. Readjustment amid a heated contest was no easy task.  

Launched in 2005, the competition had 54 students from 13 countries in  its 2016 avatar. Two Indonesian students had bagged the top honours  then.  

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