A Zero 88 FLX S24 console was utilised to launch a high altitude balloon into near space –reaching the stratosphere at around 30 kilometres – complete with an FLX S Range T-shirt as part of the payload – arguably the first entertainment technology industry astro T-shirt to make the journey to space and back!
The plan was conceived – over a beer or two – by Zero-88’s intrepid team of product specialist Jon Hole, Tyler Holpin from international sales and product support engineer Edward Smith, in collaboration with high altitude balloon activist and theatre technician, Stevie Partington – at the 2017 National Student Drama Festival (NSDF) in Hull!
Stevie is a teacher in Music and Computing at Worksop College in Nottinghamshire, which was used as the launch site location.
The team assembled the ‘payload’ package, including a Raspberry Pie PCB encased in polystyrene which fed back information such as location, velocity, altitude and temperature, allowing the balloon’s path and flying conditions to be tracked and monitored. A small video camera to record the flight was installed together with the descent parachute.
The FLX S Range T-shirt was attached – utilising humungous amounts of gaffa tape – to a pair of outriggers and placed within camera shot for the journey.
The balloon was then filled with pure helium – to about 30% capacity to initiate the launch, and released via an electric kabuki relay triggered by the FLX S24 console.
The balloon reached the 30 Km mark in 1.45 hours (the standard commercial flight cruising altitude is around 9.2 Km so it went three times higher) … presenting plenty of opportunities to get some awesome camera shots and video footage of the journey with the earth in the background!
By this time the helium capacity had expanded to 100% … so the balloon burst!
The payload and attachments started a freefall drop – due to the thin air at that altitude – back to earth, and as it re-entered the earth’s atmosphere and the air thickened, the parachute started filling and slowing the descent, which took around an hour and 15 minutes.
Then all the team had to do was follow the tracking software, find out where it landed and retrieve the device and associated bits including the space travelled FLX S Range T-Shirt!
From the moment the balloon is launched, it’s subjected to wind, air currents and temperature fluctuation and other elements that cause directional and speed variation. At one point for a few minutes soon after launch, the predictive software was calculating a splash-down in the icy North Sea off the coast of Norway … which would have made retrieval impossible!
Luckily fortunes and the weather changed!
The eventual touch-down was near the town of Nettleton, Lincolnshire, 44 miles away from the Launchpad, around 12 miles from the sea, and an hour and 16 minute chase for the four space adventurers to retrieve the T-shirt together with the rest of the payload.
The astro FLX S Range T-Shirt will be offered as a competition prize via Zero 88’s social media channels.
The competition – and video – was launched YESTERDAY – 29th January 2018 … and anyone interested in winning this special T-shirt should check Zero 88s social channels:
where they can enter by commenting on the video / post on FB, the video on You Tube or retweeting the post on Twitter.
See the video on You Tube: youtu.be/snp-iuc3B78