The fictional rocket was built on her ham radio tower as a sending gift for her daughter, Allie, who will be attending the University of Minnesota Duluth for biochemistry and biology.
“Climbing the tower isn’t as easy as it used to be,” Beyer said. “It has been about 10 years since I have been there before.”
Beyer removed the antennas from the tower, then installed reinforced plastic for the rocket body. He also added a flared base before carving custom letters out of scrap wood.
“You don’t know how excited I was to see it and I didn’t know my dad had this planned for me,” Allie said. “It’s a visualization of their support for me, especially as they are betting me with my interest in new and emerging areas of space science.”
Beyer found it important to support Allie’s interest in astronomy, which began with a telescope he had from his father.
“We sat on the back deck for years stargazing at night,” Beyer said. “She got really good at memorizing constellations, and it was a seed that was planted and that we have nurtured over the years.”
“Taking my grandfather’s telescope out into the garden allowed me to look at the moon and Jupiter during the summer,” Allie said. “Seeing the summer planets through my own eye instead of an image was exciting and made me ask more questions. “
After this first exposure to astronomy, other experiences led Allie to her passion for asking questions and wanting to solve the mysteries of space. The family attended planetarium shows at UMD when they were spending the summer in Duluth.
“There would be a light casting stars on the ceiling showing the constellations and patterns in the sky,” Allie said. “I’m at the point where I’m asking open ended questions about black holes and dark matter. It’s a part of the curious child that I keep with me as an adult.
The rocket that Roben Beyer built for his daughter Allie is 40 feet tall and is connected to his ham radio tower in their home in Bemidji. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
A 2021 graduate from Bemidji High School, Allie plans to work at UMD’s Marshall Alworth Planetarium to learn about the space industry during her studies. Over the next two years, she plans to apply for internships at NASA or a private company.
Allie’s real interests lie in astrobiology. This includes questions regarding the origins of life, extraterrestrial life, support for life in other regions of the universe, and how different gravitational fields affect plant production.
Besides supporting Allie’s love of space, Beyer kept busy as a handyman. A fourth-grade teacher at Gene Dillon Elementary School and a former teacher at Solway Elementary School for 25 years, Beyer built backdrops and backgrounds for school plays, parade floats and other creative projects.
“I did all kinds of backgrounds so something like that suited me just fine,” Beyer said. “My neighbor also had a rocket club and we’ve always been into rocket launches.”
Combining his cunning, his interest in rockets and Allie’s future goals, the amateur radio rocket was built.
“The rocket might not go into space like SpaceX’s, but I’m not charging a million dollars per seat,” Beyer said.
Such a sending gift will prove to be a memorable one as Allie begins classes on Monday August 30th.
“This is all very special to me,” Allie said. “My generation is going to Mars. There is so much we know, but space is still a huge mystery.