JFTB Starbase team off to DC for rocket competition

STARBASE Los Alamitos Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) coaches, team members and make a celebratory toast with apple juice, April 12, 2019, at Joint Forces Training Base, Los Alamitos, California, during a party to celebrate the team's spot in the TARC National Finals Fly-Off on the east coast in May. TARC is a precision-based rocketry competition for middle and high school students. STARBASE Los Alamitos has fielded TARC competition teams for three years; this is their first national finals invitation. U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Crystal Housman

A Seal Beach teacher and some of his students from a Joint Forces Training Base program, will travel to Washington, D.C., this week to participate in the Team America Rocketry Challenge. If they win, they will get a chance to represent the United States in an international competition in Paris.

Tim Ziesmer, a Seal Beach resident who teaches rocket science for the local Starbase program, said he started with the program about three months after the program began at the JFTB.

Ziesmer and the students will be staying at two hotels. Friday morning, May 17, the students will meet with senators and congressional representatives at a “Rockets on the Hill” reception.

Ziesmer said he will be with them for the final fly-offs on Saturday, May 18. He said the kids won’t be allowed help from any adults during the competittion. Ziesmer said they will have 45 minutes to an hour to get ready. He said the top 24 to 40 teams will have a second flight.

According to Stacey Hendrickson, the director of Starbase Los Alamitos, the local team of 10 Orange County students—mostly from Cypress—will go to Arlington’s Great Meadow (which is in Lexington, Massachusetts) to launch their rockets.

Hendrickson said the teams must meet specific targets for time in the air (41 to 43 seconds), weight of the rocket’s engine, and height in the air.

The teams will compete for $100,000 for the winners to split among themselves and a travel-and-lodging expenses paid trip to Paris.

Hendrickson said they would have to pay for their own food. The students are 12 to 14 years old, she said.

Right now, the JFTB team’s official name is Team Rocket to DC and Beyond.

“If they win, they’ll be team America,” Hendrickson said.

She said that last year the team came close to getting into the Rocketry Challenge Team America Rocketry Challenge. “This year, they made it.”

Ziesmer was a biologist before he became a teacher. He mostly studied snakes and frogs.

Then he became a high school teacher and worked in Norwalk for the California Youth Authority (nowadays called the California Division of Juvenile Justice of the Department of Corrections). The program he was working at closed and he went back to biology. He was on a state waiting list when the Starbase job came up.