Students prepare for global space balloon challenge

 

Flying high-powered balloons high into the atmosphere is not an unusual feat today. But a global balloon challenge connecting people from all over the world to send balloons into space is quite remarkable.

The Global Space Balloon Challenge (GSBC) has one specific goal: to simultaneously launch balloons to space from every corner of the Earth.

Last April, 60 teams from 18 countries on 6 continents flew together and shared their stories every step of the way. Now, the second annual international challenge is inviting everyone — students and teachers, amateurs and professionals, children and their parents — to let their ideas fly.

Registration for the April 2015 competition is open at balloonchallenge.org and anyone can join. There are beginner tutorials to help teams get started, online forums for collaboration and celebration, and prizes to dare teams to try something new. Teams will compete for the “Highest Altitude” and “Best Design” while learning from people of all backgrounds, ages and walks of life.

“It’s a surreal feeling when you look at pictures of the black of space and curvature of the Earth, knowing that those came from a payload you built,” said David Gerson, president and co-founder of the GSBC. “Once you record video from 100,000 feet, you won’t stop coming back for more.”

This experience is rare because traditional space projects can take hundreds of thousands of dollars and years to develop. Now, through the GSBC, for about $500 and a few weekends of work, a group with no prior training can send a package to the edge of space with teams all over the world.

At its core, the GSBC was founded to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists to build balloons, have fun launching them and see the Earth from a new perspective.