St.B’s Launches A Weather Balloon On Mother’s Day

The West Ranch High School Astronomy weather balloon carrying a payload of science experiments lifts off from West Ranch High School on it's 50 mile flight to reach an altitude of 93,000 feet on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Launching a weather balloon every May has been a tradition for 5 years. Every year the launch has been successful until this year.

At first, things started pretty well. About 11 kids and 6 helpful chaperones gathered at 8 a.m at 4 East 98th Street. We all got in our cars and drove to a field in Whitehorse, PA. Though the rain was heavy we prevailed and inflated the balloon with about 2,000 grams of helium. The only downside to all this was getting about a gallon of freezing cold water down of sleeves of our jackets. Which you can probably tell isn’t the best feeling in the world. We attached the payload made of 2 GPS’s a LAB QUEST 2 anemometers and a egg. These items and some other things I probably forgot to mention weighed about 2.3 pounds.

Then the bad things started to happen. First, the balloon started whipping back and forth because of the heavy wind which made it really hard to keep steady and made us guess the amount of helium we injected into the balloon. This made it unsure if it had enough lift to get it into the atmosphere.

We launched the balloon and hoped for the best. The balloon rose slowly and we knew that it wouldn’t go far. After travelling about 1/2 a mile it landed on a barn and popped. We charged to the building and were greeted by annoyed neighbors. Thus we were forced to rent a cherry-picker from a company and were told they would ship the payload to us in about a week.

Though the launching wasn’t a success it was fun driving for 8 hours. It was an experience I will never forget. Thank you so much Mr. Parsons.

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