Engineering students launch balloon

(May 20, 2009) - Four pre-engineering students at Hagerstown Community College recently took part in a near space balloon launch through the Maryland Space Grant Consortium’s Balloon Payload Program.

The balloon launch was part of an independent engineering study in collaboration with the Department of Aerospace Engineering at University of Maryland College Park. The study consisted of using a weather balloon to lift a small sensor package, which had been previously constructed by HCC engineering students, to the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere at approximately 65,000 feet; a place where space-like conditions exist in terms of pressure, temperature, and radiation environment.

“The Balloon Payload Program is a great opportunity for students to gain experience with a hands-on engineering project,” says Tim McCollum, HCC instructor, engineering and mathematics. “I’m very proud of the commitment they showed, as well as the quality of the experiment they constructed.”

HCC team members included Matthew Griffith, of Boonsboro; Karilee Grossnickle and Blaine McLeod, both of Hagerstown; and Dave Thoerig, of Clear Spring. The students designed, constructed, launched, and recovered the sensor package, as well as conducted post-flight analysis of the data obtained during the flight. The payload was launched from Clear Spring Elementary School and was recovered a few miles south of Westminster, Md.

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