Launching missions to the edge of space does not have to be difficult or costly. Here are the basic steps you need to take to get started.
1 Purchase Our Eagle Kit
Our Eagle Kit includes everything you need for your first mission to space except a camera (optional) and helium. You can also choose to add our Eagle Flight Computer. It records data from a suite of sensors (GPS, pressure, and external temperature) and saves it onto a micro SD card.
2 Get a Camera
Although a camera is not necessary, it is highly recommended. You can vertically or horizontally mount just about any camera on the Eagle flight frame. However, we recommend using the GoPro Hero. It is virtually indestructible and records high definition video.
3 Configure Your Tracking Device
Our kits come standard with a satellite tracker, the SPOT 2 Satellite Tracker. Setting up your own SPOT account is quick and easy. It does require a $150 annual subscription fee. You can also set up a Spot Adventures page and share it with your friends, family, and High Altitude Science.
4 Locate a Helium Supplier
Most party supply stores and some welding supply stores will rent out helium gas bottles. If you live near a major city, a quick search online should yield at least a half-dozen places from which to rent helium. Most party supply stores require a deposit and will allow you to rent for up to three days at no extra charge.
5 Read our Flight Manual
We want you to get the most out of our kits. Our flight manual puts you on the fast track to becoming an expert in launching near-space missions. We have learned many lessons the hard way. By reading our manual you get to learn our frustrating and sometimes costly lessons without going through the pain.
6 Set a Launch Date, Time, and Location
You can launch from just about any open field. We do, however, recommend launching away from populated areas. You will also want to consider the prevailing weather, including the direction and strength of the jet stream, surrounding terrain, and specific mission goals. Our flight manual will guide you through the process step by step.
7 File a NOTAM
We need to always respect the privilege we have of being able to fly weather balloons through commercial aviation airspace. The day before the launch you need to file a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) by calling your local Flight Service Station and providing them with basic information about your launch. This is part of an important process that informs pilots to be on the lookout for a “high ball” when flying through airspace that intersects with your expected Eagle's flight path. All of our kits come with clear instructions to help streamline the NOTAM filing process.
The moment you have been waiting for! After you inflate your latex balloon, verify one last time that all the electronics are functioning correctly, and make sure that you are still inside the launch window per your NOTAM, the final few seconds of the countdown begin!
You should already have a good idea of where your Eagle will land from step 6. You can also chase your Eagle’s flight path realtime using your tracking device’s website. If your payload lands on private property, make sure you get permission before retrieving it.
After the Mission
If your payload includes our flight computer, you can easily download the data from the micro SD card to determine your maximum ground speed, maximum altitude, minimum temperature, average rate of climb, maximum descent rate, jet stream altitude, altitude of the tropopause (boundary between the troposphere and stratosphere), etc. Our flight manual also shows you how to easily export the data into a Microsoft Excel file to allow you to easily graph all your data.
Now it is time to start planning your next mission. Order more weather balloons and batteries and imagine higher.
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