Brunel University London (BUL)’s second scientific expedition to the edge of space - more than 100,000 feet, or three times higher than the cruise altitude of transatlantic passenger jets - can be viewed, via live video streaming, by anyone with a computer or a smartphone. This year, a team of final year MEng engineering students are working on the project, which has been split into two missions.
The first mission will carry a number of physics experiments designed in conjunction with physicists at the Large Hadron Collider and the Diamond Light Source, that will measure UV radiation and cosmic rays ast different altitudes.
The second mission (later in February) will take a specially designed and built unmanned glider, which will ascend by helium balloon and then be released at high altitude, all within segregated airspace. The aim is for the glider to descend and safely land itself at a predetermined location. A great number of challenges have to be overcome to succeed in both missions but the team is optimistic that either in live stream or in high-resolution video, BUL will be able to provide the viewers with spectacular videos and images. The first mission is planned for mid-February, while the second will take place close to the end of February. Both missions are highly weather dependant, so the team will have more information regarding mission details a couple of days before launch.
“Last year, our video of our first journey to the edge of the atmosphere using a helium-filled weather balloon achieved a global audience. This year we are going several strides better because those who register their mobile number or email on our website will be able to watch live streaming of our scientific payload into space,” explained supervisor Dr. Konstantinos Banitsas. “And we’ll send a text alert at launch. Despite the many challenges, we are hopeful that our payload will break the 100,000 ft barrier so people will be able to see the curvature of the Earth and the blackness of space in real time. If the communication link breaks, we will send everybody a video from the beginning of space after a few hours and upon recovery of the payload.”
The video from BUL's first foray into the upper atmosphere can be viewed below, and to register for the live stream, please click here.