For many Denver metro area school kids, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) last week offered an up-close, personal experience in what’s like to launch a real rocket. The kids, ages 8 – 13, got to find out what goes on when a rocket is sent into space. These kids learned all about the Atlas 5 rocket, which carries the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover (MSL) that landed on Mars on August 5, 2012.

The Atlas rocket built by ULA was actually launched in November, 2011, and took nine months to land on Mars. ULA provided these kids an exciting, memorable experience, being at mission control.
They had a script to follow from Atlas Launch Control. “Standby on command channel for launch countdown status checks,” said the launch commander. After all checks were completed, the clock time read “T – 10.” Let the final countdown begin 10..9..8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1.. LIFTOFF!

Sofia Chavez said “learning about rockets and launching them is an experience I’ll never forget.” The excitement built throughout the simulated launch experience, ending with everyone shouting “GO ATLAS, GO CENTAUR, GO MSL.” It truly was an exciting opportunity to learn about what ULA goes through when building and launching rockets. I can’t wait to watch what the MSL will bring to us from Mars.