Ukrainian model rocketeers brought home 14 medals from the World Championship of Model Rocket Sports held in the United States. During a press conference upon their return to Ukraine, the athletes, their mentors and partners talked about their preparations for the competition and the difficulties they overcame.
Oleksandr Radchenko, who won gold in the S2/P class, has been involved in model rocketry since he was 11 years old. While still in school, he saw demonstrations of rocket modelers and became fascinated.
“When you see a rocket take off, inhale the smell of the engine, you get an unforgettable feeling. That’s how I got into practicing rocketry. And if you enjoy it, you will always get better,” said Oleksandr.
Over the years, model rocketry has taken significant steps forward. According to Oleksandr, model rockets are being manufactured with the latest technologies to make them lighter and more precise. These improvements are bringing our athletes victories in the international arena.
According to S4A silver medalist Rodion Struzman, the World Championships in the US was the most interesting he had been to. All participants were on equal footing, as they had to fly using American engines, which they received immediately before start.
However, preparation for the competition was difficult. In winter, due to blackouts, Ukrainian rocketeers had to work without light and heat. The models had many defects as the materials could not polymerize properly in the cold. Thus, considering the difficulties they had to overcome in preparing, Team Ukraine is even more proud of their successes.
“Our team was one of the most united, and we constantly helped each other,” said Rodion.
Model rocketry is not only a competition, but also a means of education. The General Secretary of the Ukrainian Spacemodelling Sports Federation, Denys Khmyl, explained that success in model rocketry requires knowledge of physics, chemistry, mathematics, and astronomy, as well as knowing how to apply them practically. In fact, the knowledge Ukraine’s competitors have in these fields allow them to create their own projects from scratch.
In the effort to develop model rocketry and STEM education in Ukraine in general, the Federation is supported by partners at- NGO “Association Noosphere”. Petro Ivanov, director of communications of the Noosphere project group, said that Noosphere’s founder, international entrepreneur and philanthropist Max Polyakov, sees great prospects in the technical education of Ukraine’s children and youth. As they develop in practical disciplines, they will move forward in the future in industries like aerospace, which are highly in-demand right now.
Noosphere stands ready to partner with the Ukrainian government to help create educational programs in model rocketry and robotics to develop STEM enrichment at the national level.
Model rocket clubs operate in regional centers for extracurricular education. Olena Pedorenko, deputy director of the Ukrainian State Center for Extracurricular Education, noted that the successes of Team Ukraine’s rocketeers are the result of both their own work and the contributions of their coaches, teachers, and partners.
“It was difficult, but the team worked perfectly. We have earned tremendous results on the world stage, and I am sure we will see many more in the future,” she said.