BEMIDJI, Minn. — Though it may not have an engine or ever make it to space, Roben Beyer is still extremely proud of the 40-foot rocket standing tall above his family's Bemidji home.
The mock rocket was constructed on his amateur radio tower as a send-off gift for his daughter, Allie, who will be attending the University of Minnesota Duluth for biochemistry and biology.
“Climbing the tower isn’t quite as easy as it used to be,” Beyer said. “It’s been about 10 years since I’ve been up there before now.”
Beyer removed the tower’s antennas, then installed reinforced plastic for the rocket’s body. He also added a flared base before cutting custom lettering out of scrap wood.
“You don’t know how excited I was to see it and didn’t know my dad had this planned for me,” Allie said. “It’s a visualization of their support for me, especially since they’re taking a bit of a gamble on me with my interest in new emerging fields of space science.”
Beyer found it important to support Allie’s interest in astronomy, which started with a telescope he had from his dad.
“We sat on the back deck for years stargazing at night,” Beyer said. “She became really good with memorizing the constellations, and this was a seed that got planted that we’ve nurtured through the years.”
“Bringing out my grandpa’s telescope in the backyard allowed me to look at the moon and look at Jupiter during the summer,” Allie said. “Seeing the summer planets through my own eye instead of a picture was exciting and made me ask more questions.”
After this initial exposure to astronomy, more experiences led Allie toward her passion for asking questions and wanting to resolve mysteries of space. The family attended planetarium shows at the U of M when they’d spend the summer in Duluth.
“There would be a light projecting stars onto the ceiling showing the constellations and patterns in the sky,” Allie said. “I’m at the point now where I’m asking open-ended questions about black holes and dark matter. That’s a part of the curious child that I’m keeping with me through adulthood.”
A 2021 graduate of Bemidji High School, Allie plans to work at the Marshall Alworth Planetarium at the university to gain exposure to the space industry while at college. In the next couple of years, she plans to apply for internships at NASA or a private company.
Allie’s true interests lie in astrobiology. This includes questions regarding life’s origins, extraterrestrial life, supporting life in other areas of the universe and how different gravitational fields affect plant production.
Along with supporting Allie’s love of space, Beyer has kept busy as a handyman of sorts. As a fourth-grade teacher in Bemidji, Beyer has built backdrops and backgrounds for school plays, parade floats and other creative projects.
Combining his craftiness, interest in rockets and Allie’s future goals, the amateur radio rocket was constructed.
“The rocket may not go into space like the SpaceX one, but then I don’t charge a million dollars a seat,” Beyer said.
Such a send-off gift will prove memorable as Allie starts classes Monday, Aug. 30.
“This is all very special for me,” Allie said. “My generation is going to Mars. There’s so much we know, yet space is still a huge mystery.”