Balloons will carry high school experiments up 100,000 feet or so in launch from FHSU

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HAYS, Kan. – Two balloons will be launched from the Gross Memorial Coliseum parking lot at Fort Hays State University and could reach as high as a hundred thousand feet before bursting and falling back to earth.

On the way up, instruments in eight payloads will take measurements for experiments designed by area high school students, said Dr. Paul Adams, dean of the College of Education and director of the college’s Science and Mathematics Education Institute.

The launch will be shortly after 9 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 14.

The payloads come from students in Hays, Smith Center, Lyons and Barton County Special Services.

“FHSU is the launch and recovery system,” said Adams. “Consider us the Space X of the Plains.”

The instruments on board will measure such things as temperature, pressure, oxygen level, UV radiation and cosmic rays, said Adams.

“It is also a test of coding for instrumentation,” he said.

The launch is funded in part by the Kansas NASA Space grant to conduct teacher training workshops and school flights.

The balloons, from a company called Kaymont and designed for high-altitude flights, cost about $100 each. On the ground, they are about 8- to 10-feet across. By the time they burst and begin their descent, said Adams, they will expand to about 30 feet.

“We hope to get to 100,000 feet up – 30 kilometers,” said Adams.

The balloons will also carry cameras.

In addition to Adams, the launch crew will be G.G. Launchbaugh, coordinator for the College of Education, and students Mackinzie Foster, Topeka senior majoring in mathematics, and Erin Foster, Hays freshman majoring in history.

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