Haydon School 2016

Hasan Younis, Robert Boodhram, Shiv Sofat

‘operation: outer heaven’

Their story, in their words….

“What we wanted to do?
As a group, we wanted to achieve a goal that was, on the face of it, completely unattainable and would help inspire future Mark Evison Foundation candidates to really think of something original and in some ways life changing. We decided that, a lifelong ambition of all of ours, since we were little children was to go to space. We might not be able to go to space ourselves, however, the next best alternative was to get real images from space captured from our own devices. We also wanted our own data and real evidence that a project of a relatively small budget can take a camera into space successfully, and retrieve the footage. We were all exhilirated by the oppurtuinity that the Mark Evison Foundation gave us; to achieve this dream and potentially inspire many others to achieve similarly elusive goals from their childhoods as well.

How did it go?
The project did not run smoothly and it was delayed until the end of October, when we finally went to Shropshire the launch the balloon. We choose Shropshire because it was far away from any major airport, where the balloon could be a problem for the planes. On the day though we again had some problems such as a lack of internet connection Shropshire, which we needed to track the balloon. However, we overcame this by telling Hasan’s brother to send us the coordinates of the balloon that he saw on his laptop back at home. We then proceeded to fill the balloon and then launched the balloon into the air. The balloon quickly went out of range into the upper atmosphere. It returned into range and with help from Hasan’s brother we were able to track the capsule (a box which contained all our equipment) to a field. After a few minutes searching we spotted the capsule the opposite field. We recovered it found that all our equipment was functioning well despite the parachute having failed when the balloon burst meaning the capsule fell without a parachute and still survived. So on the whole despite the delays and the project was successful, as we achieved our goal of taking photos of space and going up 30,000m (we actually went up to 34,923m) in space.

How we feel right now?
The feeling after we had completed our mission was simply fantastic. When we watched the footage over after recovering the payload, we were simply amazed at how clear the images were despite a lot of cloud cover and a bit of wind on the day. Seeing the curvature of the earth was an extraordinary moment and the fact that we captured this moment with a GoPro mounted to a payload which was attached to a balloon was an incredible achievement. We were slightly disappointed when the parachute system came off during the fall back to earth however, this actually worked out in our favour as the payload didn’t travel as far away from our launch point. I think at the end of the day we were all tired as we had been on the road for almost 10 hours that day. There was also a great feeling of relief that everything went somewhat according to plan on the day. The flight path of the balloon was very close to our predictions that we made which was also much unexpected. Also, months of preparation had lead up to this moment so we were glad everything worked out well. We are very proud of our achievement and the fact that we can say, “We sent a camera to the edge of the atmosphere”.”