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SGTS Launch – #csvpsHAB

Through and through it was a day full of hands-on learning, excitement and adventure, the culmination of months of work.  Today we launched our high altitude balloon with parachute and payload attached from (44 13’ 55”N 79 46’ 50” W) just to the west of Egbert, ON at the Meteorological Service of Canada Centre for Atmospheric Research Experiments. (That’s a mouthful!)



It is hard to reflect on the day in words so the majority of my look back at our day will be visual with a selection of photos and videos taken by the students in the group responsible for the visual documentation of the event.



We are ready to go, can we board the bus already?


On the road to Egbert, what a great day to launch a balloon!


The gateway to our launch site, inside those doors is where it all happens…wait we didn’t kaunch a balloon indoors!


A flat, open area, facing south, unobstructed by anything that would have interfered with our launch.IMG_4892

Lacey was getting use to hanging out upside down.


Preparations of the launch area.  Getting everything organized and ready was key to a successful, efficient launch.


The helium needed to be brought down to the launch site from the garage within the CARE facility.  The was a question asked of us whether or not we wanted to inflate the balloon indoors out of the wind.  A the students had watched int he many youtube video on HABing most launches occur outside.  So we proceeded to setup to inflate outside the building.


Lloyd resident meteorologist working for NAVCAN was checking out the contents of our payload.  I must say he was quite impressed with what we decided to send up with our balloon.  Well done team!  The research paid off.



Getting all of the technology up and running was challenging when looking for LED indicators to show in full sun.


The final additional of Lacey and her wooden plank.


Our friends Lloyd, Bernard and Liisa discussing how nice it was to get out of the offices/labs and outside to join in on the fun of our balloon launch.


Test launch of a party balloon to gather an idea of which way the wind would blow our balloon on launch.


The payload and parachute all strung out read to be attached to the balloon once it was ready and inflated.

The videos below cover the efforts of the students, ourselves and the experts for the CARE facility as we near launch.  At this point we are T-minus under an hour.

Recorded by Ryan N.

Periscope feed by Mrs. Simons

Following our successful launch of our high altitude balloon, we headed inside the office/lab building to grab a quick snack and had a great discussion about all things science that occur at the launch site with our experts Lloyd, Bernard and Liisa.  Students then had the opportunity to have a tour around the Centre for Atmospheric Research Experiments.

The tour of of the Centre for Atmospheric Research Experiments featuring Liisa Jantunen, Bernard Franski, Lloyd Barnaby, Nick Spayda (IMPROVE Network) and Kulbir Banwait.

Meanwhile, Julie (Miss Harper) and I headed off on the chase of our balloon.

The SGTS High Altitude Balloon takes flight today…

I must admit that I should have checked off the list, “sleep” but knowing that today was our launch sleep was not happening as it should have.  That being said I am here at school, knowing that we are ready to roll out shortly after the kids arrive at school, attendance is taken and the bus is reloaded.

This mornings prediction for the flight path…NOT what was seen last night…landing further south and east.  It is obvious that forecasted winds have picked up.

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 9.10.49 PM


The kids should be here momentarily…We a T-minus 2 hours!

T-minus less than a week

With less than a week to our launch of Countryside’s first HAB (High Altitude Balloon) and everything ready to go there is only one thing to do, run predictions for the flight of our balloon.  Some may ask why we might do this but the answer is quite simple, weather forecasts which include forecasted wind strength and direction change daily if not more frequently and in Southern Ontario where there are many unfavourable landing sites knowing where our payload would land is key to the success of our project.

Predictions in the days leading up to our launch, shown below were prediction landfall to be a little wet which given that our payload consisted mostly of electronics was NOT in our favour.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 8.34.25 PM




With 24 hours notice needed to cancel our buses, Thursday the 21st at around 9am would be the last time we would run a prediction for our launch.  This prediction would dictate whether we would launch on our first planned date.

Unfortunately, this was what we saw with that prediction.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 12.32.56 AM

Calls were made, buses were cancelled, those in Egbert were notified of our postponed launch and a new date was set.  Launch day #2 was set, Thursday the 28th of 2015 would be our new 1st attempt at launching a high altitude weather balloon.

Predictions for the 28th…looking good!

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 9.23.47 AM

Site Identified and Requests for Permission to Launch Initiated

The site @ (44 13’ 55”N 79 46’ 50” W) just to the west of Egbert, ON.


A few emails written to York University and the department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering put us in contact with Regina Lee, Arthur Lin and Robert McLaren.  Follow up emails went out to Robert and Andrew Sheppard, Stewart Cober and Liisa Jantunen of Environment Canada at the Centre for Atmospheric Research Experiments and within a few hours of emails bouncing around we had approval to launch from Egbert and helium to fill our balloon.


The Search for a Launch Site

The denial of our request left us searching for a new site to launch from.  So, what would make a suitable site?  Most of the students shared that we needed a space that was;

  • free from obstructions (buildings, power-lines, trees or anything that our balloon and payload system could get caught up in),
  • would leave us landing in a favourable location (preferably land based)
  • was located outside the 26NM (Nautical Mile) zone around Pearson International Airport which is the first map below is the outer most ring around Pearson.  The second map shows the major flight corridors in and out of Pearson.

image001 (1)image004

Armed with Canadian Atlases the students scoured maps of Southern Ontario for sites approximately 1 hours distance away from our school and YYZ.  Numerous sites we identified by the students (our Crew) most falling north and west of our school and well outside the 26NM zone.  Those that I recall the students suggesting were; a community centre in Palmerston, ON., Minto, ON., and Walkerton, ON.

While the students were hard at work, Ms. Harper and I followed up on the previous launch site request that had be denied where it had been suggested by NAVCAN’s AERONAUTICAL INFORMATION MANAGEMENT team that we consider a launch location often used by a group from York University located at a place called Egbert just outside of Barrie.

Not knowing all of the details about this launch site in Barrie we asked for further information from those at NAVCAN about the site, and those who had previously used it to launch HAB’s. After an email circulated amongst several members at NAVCAN offices we had the location of the York University launches (44 13’ 55”N 79 46’ 50” W)

Next up, gaining permission to launch from this site.  Time to send a few emails to York University and the department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering to see who we would need to speak with in regards to gaining permission to launch from this site in Egbert, ON because from the looks of the image below, it’s not exactly a field we can just show up at, setup and launch our balloon from.

Countryside Launch Pad

We have filed with NAVCAN our launch details and plan to use the back field of Countryside Village Public School as the site for our #spaceinquiry high altitude balloon launch.

Details in summary,

We plan to launch a HAB (high altitude balloon) between the dates of May 12th and May 15th.  The 800gram balloon will be 150 cm at release from Countryside Village Public School at 43.776667N / -79.785W and consist of a payload system length ~20 ft on ascent and a payload weight of ~1.4kg that will rise at a rate of 950fpm (feet per minute).  The expected burst altitude is above 90, 000 ft and the balloon is expected to be near 22 feet in diameter upon burst.  The payload will descend below a neon orange/green 3ft parachute about about 60km Northwest of the Launch site.

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