The Launch Part 3 – Epilogue

Every project has to end, and this will likely be the final post on our blog. It’ll contain a bunch of leftover pictures and media, along with final thoughts and thanks to all involved.

The launch story is in Part 2 of this post if you want to read it, but I skimmed over the chase itself so the first order of business is to elaborate there. I think the best way to show the mishaps of the journey, however, isn’t through my words, but through the IRC chat from experienced high altitude ballooners commenting on our mishaps:

Our payload had a bit of an accident
Silver linings
A happy ending!

They were great fun during the launch and provided invaluable help the whole way as well.

I’m also able to share the moment we came across the payload in the forest in video format (apologies for the swearing):

The next order of business is to show some pictures from our camera in space! The view up there really is something else, so here’s a selection of the best images we got back from the meteorite payload that never should have survived:


Next up are a few more pictures from launch, plus a great video kindly filmed and edited by Mark Barnard:




To round things up, here’s a link to the presentation we gave the day after launch on dropbox: (link), and a link to Jon McNamara’s blog that he’s been running along side this one: (link)

I’d like to end with some final thoughts on the project from a perspective after the fact. It’s been a difficult project that only succeeded due to the help from the community at UKHAS (who we cannot thank enough) and a whole lot of luck along the way. In addition, one person we haven’t mentioned enough so far is our supervisor at IBM, Jon McNamara. He’s the one who kick started this whole thing in the first place, and without his vision to try a project as audacious as this none of it would have been possible. During the project itself he was also incredibly helpful and easy to work with, and lent us a hand with so many bits and pieces that would have been completely overlooked otherwise. The payload is now proudly displayed, safe and sound, in his office.

Other shoutouts go to Steve Upton for giving us guidance on our software’s entire architecture; Jeremy Pitt for being understanding of the roadblocks we ran into along the way and being flexible with us; everyone else at IBM such as Dominic Bramley who set up the innovation room for us; and everyone else involved at Imperial for setting up the industrial link so that this could happen.

There was also talk of a deeper relationship between Imperial and IBM as a result of this project, one of the outcomes being access to Bluemix for students at Imperial. It’s a fantastic piece of software, not without it’s bugs, but it really is the place to get the tedious bits of a project up and running so that you can focus on the innovative side of things. Speaking of innovation, there were ideas being thrown around of building a space at Imperial, similar to the Hursley innovation center, where students could be thrown into a room full of interesting tech, with the inevitable result being things such as this project happening.

The main players in this discussion were Jon McNamara and Jeremy Pitt, who are people with an appreciation for the potential of technology to not only solve problems, but to inspire an audience to push for further advancement in innovation. Tech can be a bit dry and corporate at times, and one big take away from this project is that it doesn’t have to be; in fact it really shouldn’t be if at all possible. This project is a perfect example of this in action, with ideas for the future being thrown around as a result of the launch – hopefully the end result will be a jumping-off point for even more cool projects to come and show what’s possible in this technologically auspicious world.

All the info you need to launch your own high altitude balloon: