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HCC students participate in balloon launch

June 15, 2009

Four pre-engineering students at Hagerstown Community College recently took part in a near-space balloon launch through the Maryland Space Grant Consortium's Balloon Payload Program.

The balloon launch was part of an independent engineering study in collaboration with the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park. The study consisted of using a weather balloon to lift a small sensor package, which was previously constructed by HCC engineering students, to the edge of the Earth's atmosphere at approximately 65,000 feet - a place where space-like conditions exist in terms of pressure, temperature and radiation environment.

"The Balloon Payload Program is a great opportunity for students to gain experience with a hands-on engineering project," said Tim McCollum, HCC instructor of engineering and mathematics. "I'm very proud of the commitment they showed, as well as the quality of the experiment they constructed."

HCC team members included Matthew Griffith of Boonsboro; Karilee Grossnickle and Blaine McLeod of Hagerstown; and Dave Thoerig of Clear Spring.

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The students designed, constructed, launched and recovered the sensor package, and conducted post-flight analysis of the data obtained during the flight.

The payload was launched from Clear Spring Elementary School and was recovered a few miles south of Westminster, Md.

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