On Saturday 27 February 2016 a group of students from QKSA (Quintin Kynaston Space Association) sent a high altitude balloon into near space to collect data and try to see the curvature of the Earth.
The project has been running for a long time and after many months of planning, design and often hard work, their efforts were paid off after a successful first mission.
The students had to design a payload, capable of carrying camera equipment, GPS trackers and a black box recorder. The students also had to communicate with the Civil Aviation Authority about permissions to launch and then work out logistics of how they would launch and retrieve their balloon once it had been released.
The day started at 8:30, with a drive up towards Milton Keynes (pre-flight checks had been made the night before)
We arrived at the launch site at around 10 am and then quickly assembled all of the equipment. The local airport gave us the green light for our launch and then once we were ready we launched at around 10:50am.
Using a predictor we then drove to a location that we thought the balloon would land.
Once the balloon reached a certain altitude (roughly 30,000m) it burst, deploying a parachute and descending back to Earth.
After about 4 hours of unsuccessful communication with the balloon we were about to give up and drive home (thinking that our balloon had drifted off into the sea or would never be seen again). However, just as we were about to give up we got a GPS message from the balloon, indicating its landing co-ordinates. We quickly drove to the location. Once there we had to navigate our way through a forest and a farmer’s field and to our amazement we found our balloon.
The students were absolutely amazing and showed huge amounts of resilience and passion.
The students are planning on delivering an assembly about this to each year group and would like to talk you through some of the data we managed to get on this amazing project. If you see them around please praise them for such a fantastic job (not many schools have attempted this and been successful)