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U.S. wins gold in International Rocketry Challenge

The U.S. team's rocket as it shoots up into the sky.
Raytheon Photo Alex MacNaughton

Three students from a Georgetown, Texas rocketry club took home the gold medal from the sixth annual International Rocketry Challenge at Le Bourget Airport in Paris. The event is part of the Paris Air Show.

The 4-H rocket club members, Daniel Kelton and brothers Mark and Matthew Janecka, took the title back from the French team who came in second. Their rocket launched 703 feet, which was only 47 feet short of the targeted altitude. However, the rocket stayed in the air for 49.18 seconds which fell right between the goal of 48-to-50 seconds.

"It was short -- but it worked, apparently," Kelton said in a news release.

The team was particularly worried about how the weather would impact their launch.

"And the rain, especially, didn't help anything," Kelton said. "It makes the air a lot denser, and the rocket gets wet."

This international contest is the last leg for three separate competitions.The Team America Rocketry Challenge, the French Rocketry Challenge, and the United Kingdom Aerospace Youth Rocketry Challenge all send their champions to compete. The hope is to get middle school student interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

"Although the title must go to one team, they are all winners," Aerospace Industries Association CEO Marion C. Blakey said in a press release. "The innovation demonstrated by these students is a terrific indication that the future of our industry is in good hands and that the benefits of global collaboration are limitless."

The contest is organized and sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association of America, the U.K. Aerospace, Defense, Security and Space association and France's Groupement des Industries Francaises Aeronautiques et Spatiales. The U.S. team was sponsored by Raytheon, which is an aerospace and defense contractor.

Watch the video below to see an on-board launch video from an exhibition rocket.