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Inspiring women to rocket into science

Inspiring women to rocket into science

Date Published: 27-Jun-16

The successful launch of a powerful N2000 rocket by Samantha Ridgway early this month gathered a deserved amount of media attention. But what almost slipped under the radar was the role that one of ChemCentre’s forensic chemists played in inspiring Samantha to reignite her rocket passion. Via his out-of-hours interest in InspiredU, Dr John Coumbaros encourages women and girls to pursue science.
“I have a six-year old daughter and that has made me really think about the role of women in science and how we can encourage girls to be interested,” John said.

“Mainstream education and society in general have a severe lack of focus on the critical contributions that female scientists have made and continue to make to the fabric that has formed the foundation of science.

“As a parent I consider it my duty to teach my daughter about inspiring women of science, pioneers of the female spirit of invention and innovation.”

With this idea foremost in mind, John has been writing a series of articles on brilliant women of science, including American rocketeer Yvonne Brill. Samantha Ridgway was inspired by these articles and decided to reignite her career in rocketry.

“Samantha is a recent (2015) first-class honours chemistry graduate and is Australia’s first woman to be internationally certified as a Level III Rocketeer, having successfully launched an M-powered rocket a few years ago,” John said. “The M designates the total impulse the rocket generates, and in the case of the M-powered rocket it generates an impulse of between 5120 and 10,240 Newton seconds.”

The rocket Samantha launched this month was an N-powered rocket. According to Samantha’s Kickstarter campaign, it reached a height of over 12,296 feet (3748 metres) with a peak velocity of 740 MPH (1191 kph). Samantha described the flight as beautiful and the recovery glorious. The rocket parachuted safely back down in perfect condition, ready to fly again.
 
More information: Dr John Coumbaros 9422 9819 email jcoumbaros@chemcentre.wa.gov.au
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