High Altitude Ballooning
Calgary and Area
"Poor Mans Space program"
This flight used a 1200 gram balloon, launched from carbon. we had 1 aprs trackers and 1 spot. todays launch was one for the record books, we had three interesting things happen: 1) The burst was so violent that the tracker completely reset during burst 2) we watched the balloon land 3) shortest recovery yet, around 20KM (26 by road) from launch site.
*not posted yet
The Balloon Project- Ziyana Kotadia,(student) HSC JUNE 13
The Balloon Project that I had the privilege to be a part of this year was an incredible thing to work on and to experience. The Balloon Project involved sending of a large latex balloon into Earth’s atmosphere, high enough that it reached what we can call outer space. The balloon had two payloads attached to it, one a smaller box that housed the tracking and informational equipment, while the other larger payload contained items to develop experiments from, as well as other items (put in there so that we can say they’ve been to space)! The idea was for the balloon to burst due to the low air pressure after reaching a high enough altitude, at which point a parachute would activate, sending the payload back down to Earth.
I got involved in this project originally because it seemed like one of the most interesting projects I had heard about. I learned about the physics of the project itself, but I also learned a lot about what it means to be a part of something so much bigger than myself. I helped send a balloon to outer space- it doesn’t get much more big-picture than that!
Before we could plan the launch, we had to get together some details. Over the course of a few meetings, several students got together with the Balloon Project staff coordinators to build the payload box, decide what we should take to space, design experiments regarding the effects of sending particular things into space, and do other prepatory activities. The preparation was a process, but it only added to the anticipation of the actual launch. Despite the many people who helped out with these things, none but me were willing to actually attend the launch.
The morning of the launch, I woke up early, my eyes bright with the promise of an exciting venture.
On Sunday, May 15th, I drove out to Carbon, Alberta with the teacher project coordinators- Mr. Broughton, Mr. Schroeder, and Ms. Ross. After a car ride full of hot, bright sunlight and the taste of anticipation, we arrived at the launch site. There were procedures we had to go through before we could fill the balloon; tying in the payload, activating equipment, sending up a small balloon to test the direction of the wind, turning on and inserting a GoPro camera into the payload so that we could watch the footage of the balloon reaching space. After filling up the actual balloon, which was about the size of a car when all was said and done, we walked it out to the field. I had the honor of being the one to release the balloon into the air, officially launching it into space. It was a perfect day for this launch, the sky was clear, the air was warm, and there was minimal wind. We watched the white speck of a balloon grow smaller and smaller until it was indistinguishable from the bright blue of the sky. A few hours of waiting and tracking the balloon, we piled into a car and took off after the balloon, tracking it as we went so that we could reach its landing site. The timing was perfect, because we ended up having the rare privilege of seeing the balloon plummet from the sky to the ground. Neither the flight nor the fall could have been more perfect- the payload landed right by the road, and it was so close to the launch site that it set a record, being the closest a payload has ever landed to the launch site (only about 10 minutes away by car). I remember opening up the payload and touching the items inside; they were still cold from being in space. I had decided to put one of my favorite things- a necklace from my aunt- inside the payload, and so taking the necklace afterwards and putting it back on with the knowledge that it had been to space was incredibly invigorating.
The experience of going out to Carbon, letting the balloon go into space, the adrenaline of chasing it, the wonder of watching it fall, revelling in the perfection of the endeavour, and the knowledge that we had actually sent something to space- it was breathtaking, mind-numbing, life-changing. It was an incredible experience- not just for the thrill and sheer wonderment of it, but for the fact that I had learned so much, and that my scope of what I believed I could do had just expanded. I will never forget that day, because it was the day that I realized how big the world is, and I realized just how much is truly possible.
~ Ziyana Kotadia