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Alabama High Schools Successfully Launch High Altitude Balloon


By Ed Tyler, N4EDT
ARRL Southeastern Division Coordinator for Education, School and Club Technology Programs

The Pell City and St Clair County High School’s joint balloon launch was a great success. The balloon was launched from the St Clair County Airport in Pell City, Alabama into a brisk wind at 2PM on April 2. The balloon carried a variety of experiments ranging from materials, plastic sticks, silly putty, several varieties of seed, batteries, film and cameras, radio location equipment and a radio beacon announcing the balloons flight, as well as a collection of worms. The worms were given physicals by a St Clair County High School science class prior to the flight. They returned home in apparent good health and have made reservations for the next flight.

The balloon made a rapid and steady ascent to 94,449 feet and, after bursting, landed near Woodbury, Georgia. The balloon landed in the middle of an open field and was quickly retrieved by Amateur Radio operators from the Auburn/Alexander city area. The packaging for the flight was new; it was inspected after landing. It was determined that the styrofoam capsule and the nylon jacket had survived in excellent condition. This flexible packaging allowed for up to six experiments to be safely packaged together for flight.

The mission goals -- launching and retrieving the experiments, improving the packaging and launch operations -- were achieved. Future launches will seek to involve more students, improve the launch procedures and to expand the variety and quality of the experiments lofted into near space.

Monitor our Facebook page for pictures and additional information about the flight. You’ll find more pictures, experiment reports, new experiments and plans for future launches on the page.

One behalf of the students and teachers from Pell City and St Clair County High Schools, I want to express our thanks to Bill Brown and all of those that have supported the balloon program.



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