BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014
CambridgeshireCambridgeshire

BBC Homepage
England
»BBC Local
Cambridgeshire
Things to do
People & Places
Nature
History
Religion & Ethics
Arts and Culture
BBC Introducing
TV & Radio

Sites near Cambridgeshire

Leicester
Lincolnshire
Norfolk
Northampton
Suffolk

Related BBC Sites

England
 

Contact Us

Students

The view from 30km above Cambridge!
The view from 30km above Cambridge!

Project Nova takes to the skies!

Paul Collins
A group of ambitious students from the University of Cambridge have set themselves a sky-high goal - to launch a rocket into space for under £1000. Paul Collins, an advisor on the CU Spaceflight council, tells us how the first launch attempt went...

Project Nova launch gallery >
video Watch the Project Nova launch video >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer

The first component of the system was tested on 9th September 2006, producing spectacular images of the curvature of the Earth from the upper atmosphere.

The CU Spaceflight team prepare the balloon
Preparing the balloon for the launch

The team used a high altitude helium balloon to launch their tiny payload, no bigger than a lunchbox. Packed with instrumentation, it flew to nearly four times the height of Everest before descending by parachute, taking photographs throughout the flight.

"This marks the first step in a series of flights to prove our tracking and telemetry systems. Once we can take a larger payload stably up to 30km, we will be in a position to launch a rocket from the balloon that will reach the 100 kilometre boundary of space for a tiny fraction of the present cost," says Carl Morland, founder of the project. "By using a balloon to go as high as possible, a considerably smaller rocket can be used as there is much less drag due to the thinner air."

"After a tense night of checks, we took the balloon and payload to the launch site at Churchill College, Cambridge"
Henry Hallam

Project Nova is part of Cambridge University Spaceflight, a student-run organisation dedicated to space flight development. The balloon carried a camera, a data transmission system and two tracking systems, as well as the parachute.

The view above Cambridge from Project Nova payload
Project Nova produced over 800 images

"We can track its position to within ten metres", says Henry Hallam, responsible for developing the tracking system. Robert Fryers, whose work on miniaturising the electronics was vital in making the flight possible, is excited about the future possibilities. "By reducing the size and weight of our control systems like this, we can go higher and carry more experiments."

The flight lasted about three hours, producing over 800 images. "After a tense night of checks, we took the balloon and payload to the launch site at Churchill College, Cambridge," says Hallam.

The CU Spaceflight Project Nova team
One last photo after landing!

The balloon was filled with enough helium to lift the payload at a steady rate of ascent of about 11mph. As the balloon rises it expands and it will keep on rising until it bursts, which it did exactly two hours after lift-off at an altitude of 32.2km or 105,600 ft above sea level.

The descent was initially rapid in the thin air, reaching a peak descent rate of 100mph. Once the parachute had fully opened, the balloon landed safely at 12mph.

See some of the stunning photos taken by Project Nova - including amazing aerial shots of Cambridge, and spectacular images of the curvature of the Earth from the upper atmosphere. Plus, watch a video of the launch:
Project Nova launch gallery >
video Watch the Project Nova launch video >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer

The success of the first launch has generated a lot of interest from potential sponsors.

To find out more about Project Nova and to see the full gallery of photos, visit the CU Spaceflight website.
CU Spaceflight >
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites
last updated: 20/09/06
Have Your Say
Your name: 
Your comment: 
 
The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

anoop- india
hey how did u attain such high altitude with 10mw Tx.. what kind of antenna did u use.. if u donn mind reply me to.

misty
This is absolutely spectacular!! a splendid idea with some brilliance. well done chaps.

khemsingh
i am medical syudant but i am so intrested in astrology can i enter in this field..........

Davidian Chorley
Right On!

Adam
Launching into space doesn't seem quite as hard as actually staying there indefinitely. Excellent work! 'Rockoons' have a long heritage and would let the students launch a rocket to 'extreme altitudes' if they can solve the issues of remote control of the rocket launch mechanism.

Geraint
Fantastic!

MD. RABIUL ISLAM.
Hi, This is really good idea and existing experiment. I got another idea from this idea. May be I will improve this my new project but it will take long time. Thanks Rabi

Md. Imam Mehedi Hasan
It's really a great job.

Dan
Well done, but it still doesn´t beat that mini ending up on the roof of King´s!

SEE ALSO
home
HOME
email
EMAIL
print
PRINT
Go to the top of the page
TOP
SITE CONTENTS
SEE ALSO

BBC Arts

External Links





About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy