Usually high-school rocket clubs launch an egg and try to have it land safely. But our teacher suggested that we do something harder: enter a competition to build a Mars rover that could be deployed from a rocket. A few of us started working on it. The goal was to launch a robot 1,000 feet in the air, have it land safely on the ground, and then drive it about 30 feet. But the robot had to fit inside a rocket that was just four inches in diameter and 20 inches long—it looked like a stick. Our idea was that when the rocket reaches its highest point, the robot spills out and the parachute unfurls. It’s hard to control how robots land, so we designed ours to be drivable no matter how it touches down.