Near Space Team

Next launch: ROBOMO-6 at GPSL 2014
Link to GPSL2014 website
Most recent launch:  GPSL 2013, Pella, IA.
Next GPSL: GPSL 2014

Follow the ROBOMO-6 thread in the forum here: ROBOMO-6

Do you want to be part of something really exciting? Do you want to send your electronics projects right to the edge of space? Then consider joining the ROBOMO near space balloon team! Near space ballooning is a great way to learn about several topics and combine them in a real world way. Our payloads include microprocessor controlled GPS tracking, temperature sensors, 2m amateur radio links, still and video photography, and even a bit of CNC made custom parts.

Near space is a term used to describe a region of the atmosphere that approaches the conditions found in outer space. The payload will travel above 99% of the atmosphere, it is very cold (-70 degrees or more below zero), and the levels of UV radiation are very high.

ROBOMO-1 going up!

The curvature of the Earth can easily be seen, and some pictures will even show the blackness of space above the Earth. However, it is important to understand that the payload does not go into orbit or experience weightlessness.

The ROBOMO near space team has participated in the last three Great Plains Super Launches, an annual gathering of amateur high altitude balloon groups. The 2010 GPSL was held in Hutchinson, Kansas. Our first payload, ROBOMO-1 just barely cracked the official start of near space at 71,000′.

(Near space is considered to start at 65,000′). We learned a lot at our first launch, and met a lot of great people. Even though we made several newbie mistakes, we still successfully recovered the payload.

ROBOMO-1 recovery

As a bonus, we were able to see the payload land in the trees.

We recently participated in the 2011 GPSL held in Colorado Springs, Colorado. ROBOMO-2 was a multi-payload launch, with our unofficial mentor, Paul Verhage, also having a payload on the flight string. Fortunately for us, his payload also included a 2m amateur radio tracker because ours mysteriously stopped transmitting right after launch. ROBOMO-2 reached a maximum confirmed altitude of 88,600′. Once again we were able to successfully recover the payload after watching it float back to earth.

On September 24th, 2011 we launched again with Paul Verhage. We used a 1200gr balloon and helium.  We are investigating using hydrogen for future launches, as the price of helium has been rising and is now double the price of hydrogen. Hydrogen will give us increased lift for the same volume of gas as an added benefit. In addition to our ROBOMO-3 payload, Paul also had 3 other payloads attached to the flight string. We reached a maximum altitude of 88,862′, and traveled about 50 miles downrange. Missouri being what it is, we landed in a huge tree. Recovery took some time, but working together we got the payloads back safe and sound.

ROBOMO-2 just after burst at 88,600′
ROBOMO-2 recovery

If you are interested in being a part of the ROBOMO near space team, please feel welcome to come to the next monthly meeting. Also consider joining the forum (see the link on the upper left side of the home page). Regardless of your experience level, come fly with us!

ALT Recovered?
ROBOMO-1 GPSL2010 Hutchinson, KS 71,000 Yes OpenTracker Int. Temp, low res video
ROBOMO-2 GPSL2011 Colorado Springs, CO 88,600 Yes Trackuino Int./Ext. Temp, low res video
ROBOMO-3 24SEPT2011 Columbia, MO 88,862 Yes Trackuino Int./Ext. Temp, low res video
ROBOMO-4 GPSL2012 Omaha, NE 85,454 Yes Video only
ROBOMO-5 GPSL2013 Pella, IA 60,000 Yes  Premature balloon failure 🙁
ROBOMO-6 GPSL2014 Hutchinson, KS