NOC Students Attend NASA Rocket Launch

Ponca City Now - August 22, 2023 6:29 am

A Terrier-Improved Orion sounding rocket carrying students experiments for the RockOn! mission successfully launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Thursday, August 17 at 6:00 a.m. EDT.

Northern Oklahoma College students Abbigayle Vargas and Grant Biggers along with adjunct faculty member Ken Black attended the RockON! Launch at Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, VA.

The launch carried experiments for Cubes in Space, RockOn!, and RockSat-C student programs. The sounding rocket reached an altitude of 103 miles (116.7 kilometers) before descending back down into the Atlantic Ocean via parachute. Teams will review the payload to return the experiments back to the students.

The rockets will be carrying experiments developed by more than 30 university and community college teams as part of NASA’s RockOn Workshop and RockSat programs. Fifty percent of the RockOn teams are from minority serving institutions.

“The RockOn/RockSat programs provide unique hands-on experiences for students in the development of scientific experiments and working in teams, so these students are ready to enter STEM careers,” said Dr. Joyce Winterton, Wallops senior advisor for education and leadership development.

Dr. Wood-Black, NOC Engineering, Physical Science, and Process Tech Division Chair, reported that she was informed by the attendees it was a powerful experience.

“The students who attended the launch are part of NOC’s high-power rocket team that participated in the First Nations Launch, sponsored by the Wisconsin Space Grant, last April and were awarded this opportunity,” she said.  “NOC plans to continue its participation in high power rocketry by attending the Tulsa Rocketry’s High Frontier Event in September and continued participation in the First Nations Launch Program as well as other NASA programs.  While most of the students that are participating are pre-engineering students, students from other disciplines such as biology and liberal arts have been part of the rocketry team.”

In addition to the higher education experiments, 80 experiments will take flight as part of the Cubes in Space program, which partners with Wallops to provide a platform for students aged 11 to 18 to develop and conduct research and science that connects to real-world Earth or space-based problems or needs.

The RockOn/RockSat-C mission was set to launch in June but was delayed due to weather.

Northern Oklahoma College, the state’s first public two-year community college, is a multi-campus, land-grant institution that provides high quality, accessible, and affordable educational opportunities and services.

NOC serves nearly 4,000 students through the home campus in Tonkawa, branch in Enid, and NOC/OSU Gateway Program in Stillwater.  Of these students about 80% receive financial aid and/or scholarships. 75% of NOC students complete their degree with zero debt.

The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers associate degrees in three general areas: Arts, Science and Applied Science; the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs; and the Accreditation Commission for Education and Nursing.

For more information about Northern Oklahoma College please call (580) 628-6208 or visit the NOC website at

NOC students Abbigayle Vargas and Grant Biggers were among a number of students attended the NASA Rock On! Rocket launch last Thursday in Wallops Island, VA. (Photo Credit: NASA/Danielle Johnson.)


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