Our High Altitude Balloon at the Edge of Space (GoPro Capture)

High-Altitude Balloon Project Update #3 – Launch!

Our High-Altitude Balloon made it to the edge of space! The image above was taken from our HAB at an altitude of over 90,000 ft!

After many months of work, raising funds to finance the project, teaching STEM sessions in local High Schools, and an open-house to test the Balloon Platform and to learn about Amateur Radio; our High-Altitude Balloon Project (HAB) Team finally got the chance to launch and track our Balloon. We launched our Balloon from the Elementary School in Winchester, NH.

High-Altitude Balloon - Setting Up Our Gear On Site
Setting Up Our Gear On Site

Students, Teachers and Club Members came out to be part of the launch and to track our HAB. The first step was to move all of our gear to the center of the athletic fields at the school and organize all of our equipment.

High-Altitude Balloon Flight Platform Final Assembly and Test
Flight Platform Final Assembly and Test

Next, we attached the GoPro video cameras, satellite tracker and the battery pack for the Flight Computer and 2M APRS transmitter to the flight platform. We used an APRS capable HT to confirm that the flight computer and APRS transmitter were working.

Rigging the High-Altitude Balloon Flight Line
Rigging the Flight Line

We rigged the 40 ft. flight line which connected the HAB’s flight platform, recovery parachute, and the balloon.

High-Altitude Balloon Inflation
Balloon Inflation

And then came the inflation of the balloon from the Helium tank. The winds were gusting to about 12 mph at this point which made inflating the balloon a little tricky. When filled, the balloon was about 6 ft. in diameter on the ground.

High-Altitude Balloon Launch!

With both GoPro cameras running on the flight platform, we were ready to launch. A 10-second countdown and the balloon was up and away!

Tracking Our High-Altitude Balloon
Tracking the HAB

We watched the balloon from the ground as it soared off into the clouds. The 2M APRS tracking system worked perfectly and we spent the next several hours at the launch site, at lunch, and in our cars tracking the HAB on aprs.fi.

Tracking Our High-Altitude Balloon Flight Path On APRS.fi
HAB’s Flight Path On APRS.fi

Our HAB’s flight path took it across Massachusetts where it reached a maximum altitude of 91,700 ft. above sea level (ASL).

Looking Upward at the High-Altitude Balloon (Near Burst)
Looking Upward at the Balloon (Near Burst)

The balloon reached a diameter of approximately 30 ft before it burst. After the balloon burst, the parachute deployed and the payload descended to a landing in the northeast corner of Rhode Island.

High-Altitude Ballon at Recovery Site in Rhode Island
HAB at Recovery Site in Rhode Island

A combination of the APRS transmitter data and the onboard sounder allowed the landing location to be pinpointed and the flight platform recovered with help from a local resident.

The onboard GoPro video cameras captured some awesome video during our HAB’s ascent! All of the media captured by everyone who participated in the launch as well as the APRS data allowed us to produce the video above. Turn up your speakers and give it a play in full-screen mode to enjoy the experience what we shared!

By the time we had launched, the school year was at an end so we will have to wait until the fall to work with the students and teachers who were part of our STEM project to analyze the data from the flight. All in all, our HAB project has been an amazing experience for all involved. We are planning another HAB STEM experience and launch with additional schools in the fall.

We want to especially thank all of our donors whose generous contributions made this project possible.

Fred, AB1OC

Hashtag: #N1FDHAB

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