Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Near-Space Balloon Team Aims for Record Launch

They’ve sent cockroaches into the upper atmosphere. They’ve flown balloons up to 85,000 ft (airplanes fly at 35,000 ft). Now a group of undergraduate UC San Diego students are heading out to the desert Wednesday, July 20, to launch a balloon up to 125,000 ft, their highest flight ever, they hope. They are all members of the UCSD Near-Space Balloon Team, which includes aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, math and visual arts students. Wednesday, they will leave the campus in the wee hours of the morning, and drive out to Brawley, just north of El Centro, for the launch. The balloons usually carry experiments designed by undergraduates and by high school students—hence the cockroaches. Since this is the team’s first flight at such a high altitude, this time, the payload will be lighter, including some sensors and a probably a camera. To learn more about the UCSD Near-Space Balloon Team, check out their website.