Anyone with a computer or a smartphone can register for free live video streaming of Brunel University London’s scientific expedition to the edge of space — more than 100,000 feet — three times higher than the cruise altitude of transatlantic passenger jets.
This year, a team of final year MEng engineering students is working on the project which has been split into two missions. The first mission is planned in mid-February, while the second will be close to the end of February.
“Last year, our video of our first journey to the edge of the atmosphere using a helium-filled weather balloon achieved a global audience: www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIeRGCC0ogA. This year, we are going several strides better, because those who register their mobile number or e-mail on our Web site, www.brunel2space.com will be able to watch live streaming of our scientific payload into space. And we’ll send a text alert at launch,” explained supervisor Dr. Konstantinos Banitsas.
“Despite the many challenges, we are hopeful that our payload will break the 100,000-foot 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,” he added.
In addition to the video, 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, which will measure the UV radiation and cosmic rays in different altitudes.
The second mission, planned for later in February, will take a specially designed and built autonomous 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, they will be able to provide the viewers with spectacular videos and images; so stay tuned.
Both missions are highly weather-dependent, so the team will know more a couple of days before launch.