Launching near space balloon Queen Marys Grammar School Walsall 1/7/2017

I would like to thank Queen Mary’s Grammar School who allowed me to accompany the Horizon team and my son Rhys as they launched their near space balloon, using a helium filled weather balloon and their own homemade payload. Rhys and the school’s Horizom team have spent the whole academic year designing and constructing this space probe!I was impressed with their NASA-style multiple redundant systems (multiple independent cameras and sensors, GPS homemade board and also professional “black box”).

12:50. As I upload these pictures we are facing down M5 to run down the balloon – having launched in Walsall at the school it is now close to Stratford and still moving….

13:25. Balloon had burst north of Kidderminster at 37864m altitude – over 100,000 feet!

13:55. Now back down to 3165m altitude.

14:02. Eagle (well Celsius) has landed! In South Worcester. 36 miles from Queen Mary’s Grammar School – the closest it has ever landed to the school. We have been driving back and fore chasing it around.

14:53. Still trying to find the balloon. The GPS have one location before landed then stopped working. A backup mobile phone on board giving location 18 minutes drive away. We have been to first location and not found it – now on way to second. At least the sun is shining on lovely day now for such an excursion.

15:08. Success! Payload retrieved from wheat field.

Photo below of Rhys holding the retrieved payload and initial data from one of the cameras on board – this is composed simply of pictures taken of the camera screen.



2 Responses

  1. Yes they did have all permissions in place, including a call to flight control just before launch – needed pre-approved flight plan and balloon and pay-load needed to conform to regulations.
    Total payload was just over 1kg in weight and included 3 camera – a Canon point and shoot, flashed with pirate bios that gave added functionality to automatically take pictures every 5 seconds, 2 Go Pro type video cameras, a black box with temperature/humidity/air pressure bought commercially, a Arduino-based home built scientific package with magnetometer and a detector for CH4, O2, H2O levels (and some other detectors on it I did not catch), a home built Arduino-based GPS transmitter which transmitted longitude, latitude, altitude, satellite time, and a mobile phone as back up on the ground GPS transmitter.

  2. Nice one!

    Beside video of flight what was the scientific payload?

    Did they have to get permission from local air traffic control for launch??

    Pete H

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