Montana State University

Public invited to follow high-altitude balloon launch, flight on July 31

July 30, 2013 -- By Evelyn Boswell, MSU News Service

MSU students launched this high-altitude balloon from the Livingston airport in 2010. (Photo courtesy of the Montana Space Grant Consortium.)    High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571

BOZEMAN -- Montana State University students who have devised a way to get more information from high-altitude balloons will test their theory during a Wednesday morning launch from Harlowton.

The students will launch a low-pressure helium balloon sometime between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. July 31 from the Harlowton airport, said Angela Des Jardins, director of the Montana Space Grant Consortium based at MSU.

The public can follow along through live tweets from the MSGC (@SpaceGrant) and the Adler Planetarium in Chicago (@AdlerPrez and @AdlerSkyWatch). The public can also track the balloon position live by going to the MSGC tracking website at . This is the same website MSGC students designed so the FAA can track the flight for airline safety.

MSU alumni Michelle Larson and Shane Larson arrived in Bozeman Tuesday on a 5,000-mile trip around the United States, Des Jardins said. Michelle – president and CEO of the Adler Planetarium – is conducting a large social media campaign centered on star parties. While in Montana, she will also tweet about MSU’s high-altitude balloon launch. Shane was the first flight director for BOREALIS, the university’s high-altitude balloon program.

After it’s launched, the BOREALIS balloon will rise to about 100,000 feet, Des Jardins said. The students typically collect information about altitude, air pressure and temperature, but the main goal this time is to test a device they developed that will allow the balloon to spend more time at the edge of space. The device will allow the students to slowly release helium so the balloon can float longer and have more time to gather information.

The balloon could be in the air for 1 1/2 to 2 ½ hours before the students tell it to return to Earth, Des Jardins said.

“This is the first time we have tried it,” she said.

Most BOREALIS balloons in the past went to 100,000 feet and then popped.

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or