Blasting off to nationals: One local group of middle school girls is hoping to bring a national title to West Plains

A group of local middle school students are blasting off to compete in a national competition in the nation's capital.

In only its 2nd year to compete, the all girls Richards R-5 rocketry team is one of two teams in the entire state to reach the national competition.

Meet the Richards Rocketeers: You have the motor team; Morgan, Autum and Kiarah. Then you have the payload team of Afton and Rylee. Someone has to recover the rockets; thats Ella and Sydney, aka Sunshine and the computer tech Ciara. Led by coaches Brian Morrison and Cody Belt.

The West Plains team is gearing up to compete in the Team America Rocketry Challenge on May 12th in Washington D.C.

It's the aerospace and defense industry's flagship program that challenges middle and high school students to design, build and fly a rocket that flies to an altitude of 800 feet and must return to the ground within 41 to 43 seconds all while not damaging a payload of two eggs.

Last year the team missed nationals by only 11 spots but not this year.

A reality that's still setting in.

The team has put in countless hours of design, building and testing to get to this point. Windy days like Wednesday allow them to gather data during their flights that they will use when it comes down to their one shot in D.C.

Coach Belt says win or lose in D.C, the Rocketeers have truly done something incredible.

"I don't care if they win at nationals because they've already met and achieved goals they thought they would never achieve," Belt exclaimed.

The team will be flying out on May 9th and will be competing against 99 other teams from across the nation. If they win that competition, they will then be moving on to the international competition.

The Richards Rocketeers are currently raising money to fund their trip to compete at nationals. If you would like to make a donation, please contact West Plains Bank and Trust in West Plains, Missouri, attention Richards TARC team.