The Grandville High School RoboDawgs completed their first launch in connection with the 2015 Global Space Balloon Challenge. This launch, the first of six planned over the next month, was designed to test a pressurized helium storage tank. That container, a lightweight Clippard storage tank seen in the first photo above, was pressurized to 120psi and then flown into the Stratosphere on top a standard RoboDawg capsule. The Clippard tank survived the temperature changes, exterior pressure changes, and landing – and was retrieved with its 120psi load intact.
The next launch in the team’s neutral buoyancy series will carry multiple Clippard tanks. An on-board processor will test the valves and connections to bleed helium from the balloon into the atmosphere, and then replenish the helium vented with additional helium from the pressurized helium tanks carried aloft. If the team can prove the ability to reduce lift by venting helium and increase lift by releasing helium from pressurized tanks, we should be able to keep a high altitude balloon aloft for up to 24 hours. (A typical weather balloon flight is four to five hours long.)
Today’s launch was overseen by RoboDawg Near Space Science Director Amanda Bowerman, as our Program Director Dakota Hamilton was away on a visit to Purdue University for the weekend. Our launch and recovery teams included RoboDawgs Gabby Gozzi, Drake Sytsma, Julianna Buck, Heath Haverdink, Thomas Bos, Patrick West, Ariel Merril, Tim Leaver, Nehal Patel, Jarod Parks, and Kyle Hiller. The launch brought out a full complement of team coaches and mentors, including Chris Leaver, Shaun Merrill, Tom Chicklon, Mike Evele, and Doug Hepfer.