Mancunian Balloonian is a student-led high altitude balloon (HAB) project run by MANSEDS. The aim of our mission is to establish an interdisciplinary HAB program based at the University of Manchester to help foster enthusiasm for space and engineering community-wide and give students an opportunity to develop both technical and teamwork skills.
The project started in February 2016 with over 25 volunteers from disciplines ranging from theoretical physics to the aerospace engineering. From 2018-2019 we have started developing collaborations with other projects from both in and out of MANSEDS – namely Rocketry and the UAV society.
Since the beginning in February 2016 we have successfully launched two payloads; one focused on collected particulate samples with cello-tape (2017) and the other on monitoring Geiger radiation exposure with a home-made Geiger counter and also trialing a UAVsoc aerodynamic test body (2019).
The launches took a payload to an altitude of over 30km – above 99.5% of the Earth’s atmosphere, where the blackness of space dominates over the Earth far below. Both flights was filmed by two on-board cameras and returned high-definition footage and panoramic photographs of the curvature of the Earth. Utilising a Raspberry Pi as the flight computer and a telemetry board fitted with sensors, the flight path of the balloon, and atmospheric conditions such as wind velocity, temperature and pressure were recorded.
The gap between launches was due to poor weather as well as administrative hand over, however we hope to increase launch frequency with many of the volunteers staying on into 2020.
You can watch our first launch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wvBsT5sRUA
Looking forward into 2020 our goals are to build and launch our next scientific experiment (A muon detector and/or microorganism sampling) as well as a UAVsoc electronics test payload and a first go at a Rockoon launch with Rocketry. Also, with a functioning prototype now constructed we will be carrying out test launches on the pico-tracker which will be likely launching first with one of the other payloads.