The Griffen Soars: High Altitude Balloon Launch

23 April 2015

Great excitement today as the school gathered at morning break to see the launch of a high altitude balloon, named ‘The Griffen’, designed and built by 12 lower sixth physicists, with expert guidance from Samantha Graham at European Astrotech, a leading company in the Space industry. The balloon has been designed to ascend to the edge of space (around 30,000m) and return to earth later today, we are hoping somewhere around Burford. The boys will be tracking the balloon’s progress and will be in a minibus ready to collect it on its return. 

The balloon is carrying a payload with a variety of experiments. As well as the GPS module transmitting information on position over a radio link to the ground station, there will also be measurements of temperature, humidity and air pressure. The pupils have designed experiments to study the change in colour, that is blueness due to Rayleigh Scattering, of the sky and also the change in UV levels with altitude. The sensors collecting this information are connected to a Raspberry Pi and along with video footage from two GoPros, there will undoubtedly be a large amount of data to analyse and present.

One of the aims of the project was to inspire and educate pupils about space science and technology and over the 12 weeks of the project, the boys have had to get to grips with the telemetry software, perform calculations to determine the amount of hydrogen gas required to lift the payload to the required height and also to design and build a stable payload. A wide spectrum of scientific disciplines from atmospherics through chemistry and physics to engineering have been explored.

Taking part in the project are:

James Anderson-Besant
Yan Yang Chen
Man Tung Chow
Churk Yean Chung
Hugh Franklin
Jonty de la Harpe
Seb Hickman
Bryan Kwan
Sanhanat Sivapiromrat
Gabriel Suen
Wilfred Wong
Rattanan Wonghirundacha

75% of the funding for the project came from donations to last year's Annual Fund, and it is because of the generosity of parents and OAs that exciting initiatives such as this can be pursued and perhaps repeated in the future.

Further details

Watch the footage captured by the GoPros on the balloon.

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