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King University News :: Freshman Honors Science Seminar Students Have Successful Balloon Launch

On April 18, 2013, eleven freshman Honors Science Seminar students traveled to Nashville with Dr. Ray Bloomer, professor of Physics and Astronomy and associate dean for Arts and Sciences for a special balloon launch.  Once the students arrived on the campus of Trevecca Nazarene University, they attempted to launch their payload into near-space. 

“This time our camera sailed, recording an amazing view of the curved blue planet against the absolute black of space,” Bloomer said about the images captured by the on-board camera.  This time around the balloon reached nearly 82,000 feet in the stratosphere.”

The original experiment took place in Nov. 2012. Faculty members at Trevecca Nazarene University invited the students back to the campus in Nashville to attempt to re-launch the project and collect experimental data. 

“The first attempt at launching a full model payload into the atmosphere included a device built in part out of two cds and an apple corer,” said Bloomer.  “Although the students achieved a successful launch, they did not reach the intended height of 100,000 feet into the atmosphere.  The balloon leveled off at 20,000 feet.  Thus, our experiments were not in the region of the atmosphere where we wanted to see the effects of near space.  We think the balloon may have been defective or a valve may have been left open and the helium leaked out, thus limiting the lift into the air.

“We got the ride we wanted and were happy with that,” Bloomer said. “After the first unsuccessful launch, we’re grateful to be able to travel back and show off the students successes.”

The payload device was part of an overall class experiment, constructed from various scientific parts and instruments, allowing it to launch into near-space.  Students said the project showed the culmination of an entire semester's worth of work.

“Experiences, such as those granted by Science Seminar, are imperative in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) community,” said freshman Austin Patrick. Employers and graduate schools are focusing more and more on real world experience, and original experiment designs as part of their selection processes.”

The on-board data log recorded temperatures and traveled about 60 to 70 miles away from the original launch point.

The group’s sampling of the atmosphere succeeded; they found debris much closer to the ground with the successful launch of the payload device.  This was the first time an experiment was offered to freshman Honors Science Seminar students.


King University is a Presbyterian, master's-level comprehensive university.  Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, digital media, education, and humanities.  Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing.  A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available.  King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity athletic teams.  For more information about King University, visit  King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability.  King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia.  For more information, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641