SpaceBlimp 7 A high altitude balloon project


SpaceBlimp 7 (SB7) is an educational and exploratory stratospheric balloon made of latex, filled with helium or hydrogen, and expands as it ascends through Earth's atmosphere to near-space (to a height of about 100,000ft). The balloon is capable of carrying equipment (payloads). Payloads can include: electronics, radio transmitters, cameras, GPS receivers, atmospheric and/or near-space experiments.


SpaceBlimp 7 is a collaborative community project of local area makerspaces (HacDC, Rockville RSC Makerspace, Unallocated Space), independent specialists, volunteers, hackers, students, and educators. The team is committed to providing an inclusive environment where participants can share their various skills (technical and non-technical), work together, and learn from one another.

The baseline technical goals are the safe and successful launch, tracking, and recovery of the balloon and payloads. Requirements explored include concepts of buoyancy, basic electronics and energy storage, triangulation, timekeeping, radio propagation, weather prediction, FAA regulations, and stratospheric environment conditions. Volunteers and students are encouraged to propose, design, and build new ideas in the form of payload experiments. We encourage payloads to be enclosed in CubeSat's to give students experience with the CubeSat's design constraints, fostering discussion for future CubeSat missions.

The primary educational objective is providing an engaging, multi-day hands-on educational experience for students and volunteers heavily STEM focused. Students will engage in a hands-on lesson on assembling, disassembling, testing the basic tracking module components (GPS, radios) and other payloads. The project naturally leads to discussions on scientific subjects such as buoyancy, atmospheric composition and density, radio propagation, weather prediction, and technical topics such as power consumption and energy storage. Students will have first-hand exposure to a team working environment with delegation of responsibilities and the necessary communication and coordination. Critically, students will be allowed to suggest, design and build their own balloon payloads to be launched into near-space. This kind of self-directed educational approach uses students own natural curiosity and motivation to increase engagement and their sense of ownership of the resulting project.

SpaceBlimp 7 is interested in other community proposals for new payload ideas and components. More information of the previous launches can be found on the HacDC SpaceBlimp Wiki.