Near Space Balloon Launch

Members of Trinity-Pawling’s Robotics and Engineering Club launched their first payload into near space earlier this year. The “Taccolytes”(the group’s name pays homage to a Renaissance engineer and contemporary of  DaVinci) spent several weeks planning the launch of “Resilience I”.

Students were responsible for ensuring the structural integrity of the airframe and payload; the establishment of a thorough and detailed pre-flight checklist; calculation of payload’s ascent rate based on weight, temperature and weather conditions; assessment of local weather conditions and jet-stream forecasts in order to predict possible flight trajectory; adherence to and reporting of proper FAA protocols (including filing a NOTAM prior to launch), consideration of reentry safety factors, and effective recovery procedures.

Bearing a payload of two GoPro digital cameras, an on-board computer to record pressure, temperature, ground speed, altitude and GPS data, and a Jetsons-style flying saucer, Resilience I sailed aloft in late October and travelled over 250 miles before splashing down about 50 miles east of Wellfleet, MA.

The students’ goal was to reach an altitude of 90,000 feet. “Based on our calculations of the GPS data, the distance travelled before splashdown and the freakish jet stream that day, I think we may have hit our target,” commented the project’s Flight Director, a Trinity-Pawling junior.

This year’s flight team has already begun mentoring their younger peers who will be responsible for the School’s next launch. Their ambitious goal: 100,000 feet!

Does your school do something similar?

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