UND Space Studies To Participate In High-altitude Balloon Launch With West Fargo Students Friday, May 17

University of North Dakota Space Studies students and faculty will be working alongside first and seventh-grade student teams to launch and track two high-altitude balloons Friday, May 17,  from the Red River Valley Fairgrounds in West Fargo, N.D.

The High-Altitude Balloon Launch is sponsored by the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium. The public is encouraged to attend and observe the launch. This launch is completely dependent on weather.

Balloon competition

High-altitude balloons are fun, inexpensive and increasingly popular tools to put experiments in a near-space environment.  Students will attach payloads (containers holding experiments), along with a ham radio, GPS tracker, radar reflector and a parachute, to a latex balloon filled with helium.

As the balloon rises, the atmospheric pressure drops and the balloon expands.  At a certain point in the stratosphere, the balloon can no longer stretch and it pops.  As it falls back to Earth, the parachute deploys.  Ham radio operators track the balloon as it descends to Earth.  After continuously following the balloon’s trajectory with tracking equipment, the chase teams pinpoint the balloon’s final landing destination.

Balloon launch

This is the first launch to include multiple payloads from seventh-grade teams at the STEM Center Middle School in West Fargo.  The plan is to launch two balloons from the Red River Valley Fairgrounds.  The University of North Dakota is launching a Go-Pro camera to record the entirety of the flight.

The seventh-grade students have been designing their own science experiments throughout the school year and will be launching the high altitude balloons alongside first-grade students.

University of North Dakota Space Studies students and faculty will join the student teams in tracking the balloons. They will retrieve the balloons once they descend, usually a couple of hours after launch.

David L. Dodds
Media Relations/Writer & Editor
Office of University Relations
264 Centennial Drive Stop 7144
Grand Forks, ND 58202-7144
701.777.5529 | 701.777.4616 fax