Test Launch Today of Tethered High-Altitude Weather Balloon

Southeast Missouri State University will elevate its STEM education initiatives to a new level with a test launch at 1 p.m. today, June 21, of a tethered StratoStar high-altitude weather balloon in collaboration with Space Center Houston—Manned Space Flight Education Foundation.

The test mission will be held in preparation for the launch of two such balloons into the stratosphere prior to the Great American Solar Eclipse at Southeast. That event will help teachers and students go to the edge of space to view the eclipse and conduct science experiments at 100,000 feet.

The balloon will be launched today from the former Southeast band practice field in the center of campus near Scully Building.

Kaci Heins, education supervisor with Space Center Houston – the official visitor center to NASA Johnson Space Center, and a Southeast graduate, will lead the launch along with 25 southeast Missouri school teachers from 17 local school districts.

Heins led the teachers in designing mini experiments during the Collaborative Regional Education (CORE) Academy conference which concludes today at Southeast. The experiments will be loaded onto the tethered balloon. After the conference, the teachers will return to their schools where they will develop experiments with their students to be loaded on to two high-altitude weather balloons to be launched to the edge of space, as high as 100,000 feet, at noon on Aug. 21 from Southeast’s Houck Field. The launch of the balloons will coincide with the Great American Solar Eclipse when Cape Girardeau is expected to experience totality at 1:20:21 PM (CDT) on Aug. 21.

The educators will then track and recover the payload containing the experiments and, together with their students, will analyze data collected and video recorded during the flight.