30 January 2017

A New Mercy Air Record

A feat was accomplished at Mercy Air recently that will take some beating.

Something took off from our airstrip and climbed to near space (over 100,000ft) before descending and landing again.

To give you an idea:
100,000ft is in the Stratosphere and is where the ozone layer is located.
It is three and a half times the height of Everest.
Airliners fly about 35,000ft.
The SR-71 Blackbird spy plane flew at 80,000ft.
The Space station orbits only three and a half times higher at 350,000ft.
In contrast Mercy Air fly locally at around 4500ft and only up to to 12000ft when we go international.

If you've glimpsed the photos yet you will understand that this was no ordinary aircraft but three weather balloons that were launched as part of a project organised by Yellobric (http://www.schoolspacerace.com/news/). This was part of their 'School Space Race' program that aimed to encourage school children from around the globe to use maths, physics and geography to build, launch, and retrieve an unmanned craft as high as possible on a budget.

It was a bit cloudy and damp when they arrived on the day of the launch but the lack of wind was a bonus.

There was quite a lot of preparation to ensure all connections were.. er..connected...
..and that the tracking equipment was talking to the transponders.
The payload of the transmitter, camera, radar reflector and parachute was 0.55 kg and helium was used to create a lift of 0.65 kg.
The balloons start about 1.5m in diameter but as they ascend and the air gets thinner they expand until, between 6-8m, they burst and return to earth under the parachute about 5 hours later.
The anticipation was immense!
And the crowd went wild!
There was just time for the obligatory selfie...
..before all three balloons were lined up for the countdown.
..and release.
Then the tracking team got to work...
..while three cars drove off to recover them.

There was a nifty website that we used to see progress.
A zoomed-in screen shot later shows the green balloon descending (it was recovered 106km away), whilst the yellow one achieved a maximum altitude of 30625m (100500ft). I wonder what the view looked like from there?
We were happy to be able to help these schools in their quest by providing a launch site but we won't try to emulate any of their performance figures any time soon - promise!

Here is a You Tube video the group made. The Mercy Air portion starts at about 02:40.
Thank you

Mercy Air team.

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