Comanche Nation College Team Shoots for the Stars

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On April 5, Comanche Nation College Tsatsinuupi team members Cody Coffman, left, and Misty Jackson, right, work with their mentor and teacher, Kurtis Koll, in preparing the trial rocket for launch on the grass across from the Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport runway. Their newly named faculty adviser Kim Smith observes.

Three local students have definitely demonstrated they have the "right stuff."

After months of work and facing a steep learning curve and multiple setbacks, the Comanche Nation College students entered a high-powered rocket they designed and built in the NASA Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium eighth annual First Nations Launch National Rocket Competition on last week.

Team Tsatsinuupi lived up to its name, which means "stars in the sky," when on Saturday its rocket reached a height of 1,900 feet, deployed the two parachutes at appropriate times and landed just a quarter-mile from the launch pad, said Kurtis Koll, natural sciences instructor at the college and a mentor for the team.

Although the official results from the competition won't be available until June 1, after the 15 teams from 11 states submit their post flight reports, team Tsatsinuupi made an impact at the event.

"Comanche Nation College showed great fortitude and determination. The team members showed perseverance beyond measure and an ability to overcome obstacles and difficulties. We hope they will be able to bring a team to the competition from the schools they transfer to next year," wrote Christine A. Thompson, assistant director of NASA's Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, in a email received Monday.

The ultimate goal for the team Edward "Eddie" Villicana, Misty Jackson and Cody Coffman wasn't winning.

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