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Saturday, June 19, 2004

Space race encounters forks in road
chabot imageFORKS -- Despite a glitch in their test flight on Wednesday, the Olympic Peninsula's top rocket scientists are not daunted -- not by any technical setbacks, Paul Allen's money or the fact that most people may think they don't have a snowball's chance of winning the X Prize.
"I think we're pretty competitive," said Eric Meier, 26, the mechanical engineering half of Space Transport Corporation of Forks. He smiled optimistically while bolting together one of six 10-foot long tubes that will hold solid fuel for STC's "Rubicon" rocket.
"Our approach is a lot simpler," added Phil Storm, also 26 years old and the other half of this budding space travel company located here in the soggy heart of timber country. Storm's specialty is in the mathematics, electronics and computing of the rocket, although both of them do a little bit of everything.
While some may scoff at the chance of two young men in Forks succeeding in an international space race, there are a few reasons not to: They are, actually, rocket scientists; and, the experts also scoffed at Charles Lindbergh and at those two bicycle repairmen/brothers from Ohio named Wright.
Both Storm and Meier previously worked as engineers at Aerojet Corp. in Redmond -- a company that inspects and repairs engines for the space shuttle and various other space vehicles.
Meier also put in a summer stint at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., in 1998.
"At first, people in town were kind of skeptical about them," said local businessman Don Grafstrom. But once Meier and Storm made their pitch, Grafstrom said, the town adopted them like long lost sons. Read More


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