what does it take-build-rocket

Posted on Mar 19, 2014 - 07:54am by Scott

Oftentimes students at Launch will ask me, “Scott, what does it take to build a rocket?” My responses vary depending on the ages of the children but every answer has a common theme. In short, as an engineer it takes persistence, attention to detail, teamwork, and passion. Of course it helps to excel at math, but that is not the only requirement.
Persistence is important because there is always failure along the way. Building a rocket requires the testing of individual parts of the vehicle, and quite often those tests end in broken rocket structures and fried electrical boards. But with persistence these hurdles are only temporary setbacks. The best engineers learn from their mistakes and quickly hone their designs for success.

Attention to detail is critical because you only get one chance at a rocket launch! Everything must work the first time. You cannot command the rocket to return after liftoff! Therefore, each and every detail from the thrust of the engines to the strength of the nose cone must be carefully designed, evaluated, tested, maintained and monitored to make sure that the final product performs as expected. Teamwork is a requirement because I’ve never heard of someone building an orbital vehicle by him or herself! My rocket program had a team of over 50 people from engineers to technicians, from human resources personnel to contract negotiators. Everyone played a part. Everyone’s role was critical to achieve the successful launch of the rocket.

And lastly, there is passion. If you are passionate and love what you do in life you will be good at it. You will work hard at it. You will persist and you will give all of the details the attention they need and deserve. I developed a passion for airplanes and rockets when I was very young. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to passionately pursue my dreams and successfully build and launch a rocket into space. I sincerely hope that our program at Launch is inspiring children to pursue their dreams and to excel at whatever it is they love to do.

- Scott Heifetz