TEMPERANCE — One-by-one, Bedford High School students scribbled their names Tuesday on a piece of equipment they helped create destined for outer space.
The names are the finishing touches on a nine-pound storage locker designed to carry supplies and experiments to the International Space Station, located 250 miles above the earth’s surface. About 40 teens crafted certain parts for the locker last school year as part of the High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware program.
“I’ve never met anyone who’s been able to say their name has been up at the space station,” said 16-year-old sophomore Lucas Bristoll. “So I think it’s really cool I was able to do that.”
Al Dullinger’s machine technology class built several different parts for the locker, including sleeve screws, nuts, and door plates. The screws serve an important role, holding the latch mechanism shut on each unit.
The class had to cut and make the screws, which had to be measured perfectly at 0.148 inches in diameter and took weeks to make the first one. After that, students said the process to make 300 of the tiny screws went much more quickly.
All parts for the locker are supplied and certified by NASA, all the way down to the ink inside the marker used for signatures.
Each part was inspected by a student to ensure precise measurements.
“Most of our tolerances are five-thousandths of an inch,” said Stacy Hale, HUNCH founder and NASA project manager. “So if you’re over that tolerance, we’re glad you made the part, but it’s not going to space. The diameter of one hair is three-thousandths of an inch. So they can’t be two hairs off.”
Senior Conner Eckert said the building process wasn’t too difficult, but it was time-consuming. He also inspected parts.
“You just have to make sure the part is exactly the right size, otherwise it’s no good,” he said. “It won’t fit, nor work.
“It’s nice to say I created something for NASA and that I contributed to something that’s going into space,” he added.
Mr. Hale is touring schools around the country where students helped construct lockers for the program. The units are aluminum and can withstand three times the force of gravity in acceleration. They can hold up to 70 pounds, and are built with $3,000 worth of material.
About 20 students huddled around Mr. Hale as he presented the final product and cited their contributions.
“If we pulled together 200 people who design flight hardware, maybe one had the opportunity to sign it,” he told the class. “I know my team members worked hard, so I want to give you an opportunity to do something not many people get to do.”
The 19th locker in the program will be sent to Lockheed Martin until it’s needed. Mr. Hale said the locker will likely be launched sometime this year.
Mr. Dullinger ended the reception by congratulating his students.
“In my eyes, you’ll always be the team with the right stuff.”
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