South Charleston students prepare for lift-off

February 18, 2014 by  

This fall, the handiwork of South Charleston High School students could travel to space.

The high school students are at work on a high-altitude balloon, which is scheduled to launch sometime in March. The balloon will reach up to 125,000 feet in the air. The students plan on following the launch with a second balloon before the end of the school year.

During the initial test, the students will be trying to see if the balloon is able to parachute back down from great heights without damage.

If everything works out, the students will send a CubeSat mini-satellite along to NASA. The satellite will head up into space on a rocket this fall. It will be launched into a low-earth orbit, traveling around the planet for at least five years.

The project is being led by Joe Oliver, a computer teacher, and is a collaboration between several departments at the school. The English department is helping to write press releases for the launch, which they can then use printing services to distribute, while the art department is designing a logo.

The school’s engineering department is taking the reins for the basic design of the satellite, deciding what can go where. The math and computer science departments are also participating.

The project is a major achievement for the high school, as NASA usually works with students on similar projects at the college level.