WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 20, 2010) – U.S. Congressman David Wu (OR-1st) announced last week that Mihir Kurande is the winner of the annual Space Camp scholarship contest. Mihir Kurande is an 8th grader at Webb Bridge Middle School in Alpharetta, Georgia.
This marks the ninth year that Congressman Wu has sponsored a scholarship that allows an Asian American student to attend the U.S. Space Camp/Academy in Huntsville, Alabama (http://education-opportunity.com).
As a member of both the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Science and Technology Committee, Congressman Wu believes that it is important to educate young people about the value of science.
“This competition recognizes those who embody the curiosity and imagination necessary to be major contributors to our innovation society in the years to come,” said Wu. “I am pleased to be able to help Mihir ignite his imagination and explore the possibilities of space and science through this award.
“By teaching tomorrow’s leaders more about NASA and our space program, we help ensure that our country will remain a world leader in space travel,” he added.
Mihir won the contest with an essay that answered the following prompt: “Briefly outline a science experiment that you would like to conduct in space if given the opportunity.”
Mihir’s experiment in space would test the efficiency of different types of rocket fuel in order to reduce costs. He wrote, “The purpose of this experiment would be to save money by decreasing the amount spent on rocket fuel. Space exploration costs a large amount of money through technology and fuel, so if we cut down on the cost of fuel, we will be able to send more rockets into space, buy more technology, and be able to conduct more experiments.”
Mihir’s experiment would test four types of fuel in space – petroleum, liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen, and hydrazine – by putting an equal weight of each type of fuel into rockets of equal design and material composition. The experiment would use a total of 20 rockets – five rockets for each type of fuel.
For each fuel type, Mihir would launch the rockets from the same point over a distance of 100 meters, measure the travel time in seconds, average the times of the five rockets, and calculate the average speed of the rockets in meters per second. The set of rockets that clocks the lowest average time contains the most efficient fuel type.
“Out of all the science experiments in the world, I would choose this one because it needs the perfect conditions of space and it goes towards reducing the cost of space travel,” Mihir concluded in the project.
Each year, the space camp scholarship winner is chosen by a panel of current and former teachers. The U.S. Space Camp/Academy is a five-day program of astronaut training for young people, located in Huntsville, Alabama. Activities include simulated space shuttle missions; training simulators (like the 1/6th Gravity Chair); rocket building and launches; scientific experiments; IMAX movies; and lectures on the past, present, and future of space exploration.