The Catholic University of America

Balloon Launch

Description: Description: C:\Users\Max\Dropbox\EECS Hallway Display\Student Projects\Senior Design\RiceCooker\1428101798513.jpgHigh-altitude weather balloons were used to launch an increasingly sophisticated series of payloads -- starting with simple atmospheric sensors, adding "edge-of-space" photo and sub-atomic particle detectors, and finishing with a glider payload that autonomously returns itself to a predetermined landing zone. Payloads were designed, built, and tested using a systems engineering approach then launched from 35,000 to 110,000 feet -- and successfully recovered. All payloads contained a basic atmospheric sensor suite, an embedded system controller, GPS geo-location sensor, video camera, and a communications link for  telemetry reporting to the ground station. Later flights added a satellite communications link for remote command and control over the payload, and an RF link for live streaming video. High-fidelity weather models were used to plan all launches to identify candidate launch and landing sites, iterated and updated on launch day 4 hours before launch. To insure the packages were flight ready three tests were preformed. A bench test to test the sensors, a crash test to test the casing, and a tehtered outdoor launch test to test the launching process .