Rockets | University of California – Berkeley Undergraduate Application Essay

Under the covers, past bedtime, my eyes gleamed, reflecting tiny pixellated flames from the video of a Saturn V launch. The low quality video from the 70’s didn’t do justice to the sheer power and scale of this magnificent rocket, but it didn’t have to. My imagination interpolated the 5800F exhaust, the fifteen tons of fuel consumed per second, and the incredible Mach 7 speed.

At the time, I thought it was audacious to put people on a skyscraper-sized tube of refined explosives and ignite them–with a destination in mind that can only be reached if nothing goes wrong. As I learned more about von Braun’s creation, I became hopelessly enamored with it. I read everything I could about it: final launch sequence (staggered initialization at T-8.9), efficiencies of the F-1 engines (7 inches/gallon), and max thrust (34 thousand kiloNewtons). Space science has always fascinated me, especially after I struggled through Isaac Asimov’s New Guide to Science at age eleven. Since watching that Saturn V launch, I’ve been fixated on one goal: to be able to say “Did you watch that rocket launch? I designed that.”

Of course, I realize that my childhood dream was naïve–no one person can make a rocket. But one mistake can destroy a rocket. I came…

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