Mar. 28, 2017


Kalamazoo, MI


Est. 1877


Student Wins World Championship for Rocketry

Emma Kristal '18 wins rocketry award. Photo courtesy of Emma Kristal. Emma Kristal '18 wins rocketry award. Photo courtesy of Emma Kristal.

Junior Emma Kristal ’18 recently won an individual gold and team gold for a precision payload event at the World Spacemodeling Championship in Lviv, Ukraine.

“This is the first I’ve won anything at the world competition,” Kristal said. “It’s especially exciting for me because this year was actually my first time competing as an adult at the World Championships.”

Emma Kristal '18 wins rocketry award. Photo courtesy of Emma Kristal.

Emma Kristal ’18 wins rocketry award. Photo courtesy of Emma Kristal.

With the help of her father, Kristal has been building rockets for as long as she can remember. “I’d put some stickers on it, and we’d go out and launch together,” Kristal explained.

Kristal’s first rocketry competition was in fifth grade, but her passion for the hobby has always extended past just simply building a rocket.

“For me, rocketry has really always been about the places it has taken me and the relationships it has helped me build. From doing these competitions I have been able to meet and build relationships with some of the brightest and most inspiring people in the world,” she said.

Many K students have heard about Kristal’s award and are impressed. A lingering question posed by K students to The Index for Kristal is, “how does one begin to build a rocket?”

“Fins and a nose cone,” Kristal continues to make rocket building sound easy, “in my years of building I’ve realized you can turn almost anything into a rocket by adding fins and a nose cone to it.”

“But in all seriousness, it really depends on what type of rocket you’re going to be building. You can build rockets from kits that you can get at hobby stores, but for most competition models you build everything from scratch- even down to fiberglassing your own body tubes. If anyone wants to know how to build anything specific, I’d be more than happy to teach them though,” Kristal offered.

Although Kristal has been building rockets for a long time, she believes that anyone who wants to get into rocketry can begin at any point by purchasing a rocket building kit at a local hobby store – but it gets much more difficult from there. Thankfully, there are clubs that support and foster the talent rocket builders, Kristal recommends the National Association of Rocketry’s website to find clubs in your area or checking out her father’s club, Huron Valley Rocket Society.

“Or, anyone is always welcome to send me an email or just talk to me on campus,” Kristal said. “I actually have a couple rocket kits in my car right now.”

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