Look up. Look high. Even higher than that. What do you see? The sky? Try and stretch your eyes even further – what lies beyond the sky? Have you ever wondered?
Well, wonder no further because on Thursday 16th November, we are conducting our very own space mission where we will send a balloon from the secure grounds of Bedford School’s First XV rugby pitch as high as 30km (100,000 feet) – reaching the edge of space. To put this in perspective, a jumbo jet cruises at an altitude of 13.7km (45,000 feet).
How different does the world look from 30km in the air? How do towns, fields and forests appear when viewed from a vantage point of nearly twenty miles above Earth’s surface? And, what would happen to a simple marshmallow all that way up?
Through an innovative program by a company called ‘Sent into Space’, all Upper School and Prep school boys have the opportunity to get involved in this mission and will discover first-hand the answer to these questions. They will also learn practical maths, physics and engineering skills in the process. The balloon, which measures approximately two meters in diameter, will carry a marshmallow (for the all-important marshmallow experiment) and a GPS navigation device so that the boys can track down the parachuted equipment once the balloon hits the Earth’s stratosphere and shatters into thousands of pieces. Also on board will be a black box data recorder to provide a wealth of data to analyse and study in the weeks after the launch.
Learning by Doing
On launch day, (which has been carefully selected as a successful launch is dependent on certain weather and atmospheric conditions), boys will attend physics classes looking at forces, equipment and data transmission.
We hope to have as many boys as possible at the launch, to join in with the countdown and watch the balloon drift up into the sky. Live footage of the launch will be streamed on Facebook and you can follow its journey with its on-board real time tracker. We will be streamlining its launch live on Facebook so anyone can tune in.
When the balloon is out of sight, our project leads from the Upper Sixth will be busy tracking its journey, ready to jump into the school mini bus to recover the balloon as it parachutes back to earth.