Weather permitting, the Gering High School High Altitude Balloon Launch will take place on January 12th at the GHS football field.
As Justin Reinmuth and his students continue preparations, he says they are all learning a lot.
Reinmuth says the goal is to launch the balloon, which will soar to over 100,000 feet, and retrieve it the same day to bring back and analyze the data collected.
The local HAM radio club came to class to use an APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) radio to double-check their APRS beacons to make sure they are working correctly.
The launch team has been in contact with the local airport officials to schedule the flight with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), and the students have been working to build the balloon payload. So far, Reinmuth says all electronic devices that will be on the payload are working correctly.
He says it’s been a learning experience, having never launched a high altitude balloon before himself.
Reinmuth said there were some things along the way he was unaware of, joking that he “never messed with an APRS ham radio before.” He says “I kinda thought of that as archaic almost.” Reinmuth added “that’s the only way you can communicate with something at 100,000 feet….so we learned a lot.”
Part of the equipment being used includes antennas that will measure pressure, altitude, and temperature. The antenna also sends out a signal so everyone involved knows it’s location to ensure that airplanes don’t run into the equipment.
Students will be able to track the balloon’s path and location using Google Maps. The balloon will also have GoPro cameras connected, which will allow for review of footage during the climb and decent.