The KHS mission to the edge of space!

On 30th June 2011 a team of KHS students successfully sent a helium filled ballon with a payload of high tech electronics to the edge of space and back. We caught up with Space Clubs Matthew Menzies for a low down on Project Stratos' past, present and future:

"Project Stratos was initiated by myself and Robert Drane. We formed the project back in 2009 after we had a visit from Steve Randall, who did Pudsey in space for the BBC’s Children in Need and he also assisted the crew of Bang goes the Theory with sending an action man figure to the edge of space. Steve Randall came and spoke to us about E.A.R.S. (East Anglian Rocket Society) and his evolvement in projects that reached the edge of space. He talked about many of the different elements in these projects, and then we got onto costs and that’s when the idea sparked. We learnt these balloon launches were affordable. So we gather the remainders of space clubs annual funding and combined with a local company who sponsored us. We managed to gain enough funds to run the program, so we went ahead. Stratos I began and after a few months of testing a GPS tracker and modifying a camera we were ready to launch. So we launched early morning in June 2010, but after a long day siting in lay-bys waiting for a text from the GPS tracker, we never heard from the payload. At this point we considered project Stratos to be finished. A few weeks into September 2010 myself, Mr Green, Robert Drane and Christian Woolf were invited to do an assembly at Rendlesham primary school about Stratos I. At the end of the assembly, just by a stroke of luck we were approached by a man from BT, John Bayle, who expressed a lot of interest in our project and invited myself, Mr Green and Robert Drane to a meeting with himself, a few other BT employees and a representative for trackaphone in mid-December 2010, we spent a couple of hours at Adastral Park describing our project to the members of BT and the trackaphone representative presented to us the world’s smallest GPS/GSM which is only supplied to MI5 and police surveillance departments. So being members of the public and being allowed access to the advanced technologies was a huge privilege. In January 2011 we assigned roles to the members of space club and after several months of hard work we had produced two payloads, one of which held the modified camera, and the other containing two tracking devices, one being the tracker BT provided and the other being hand made by Christian Woolf. On Thursday 30th June 2011, accompanied by John Bayle and the trackaphone representative, in a field outside Cambridge we launched our twin payload which weighted approximately 600g with a massive balloon filled with helium. After an intense 2.5 hour flight we awaited a signal from the BT tracker and we followed predictions we had run and we travelled through country lanes hunting for little villages which our predictor gave us. We got a signal and we recovered the payload from a farmer’s field and it wasn’t too hard to locate the balloon in the field of green crops due to a large orange parachute. We sat down in the field and we downloaded all the videos and pictures that had been recorded on the SD Card. The only problem with this mission was on the last couple of minutes of the ascent the lens had fogged over but it cleared in time to get some nice crisp images from 100,000ft above the Earth’s surface. We still currently have a bit of money which will enable us to continue the Project into Stratos III in which we hope to achieve the goal of recording scientific data from the edge of space. This will contain such experiments as UV sensors, light detectors, temperature monitors, but these experiments have not yet been finalised. All of Stratos III experiments will hopefully be hand made by our very own members. And we plan on accomplishing this goal by the end of this academic year."