Flying high: U of S students successfully launch high altitude balloon into near space

A group of students from the University of Saskatchewan were given three weeks to plan and conduct the launch of a high-altitude balloon into near space.

“It was an awesome experience,” Pouya Pourkarim told CTV News. “I’ve been talking about it with all my friends and families.”

The team was part of a special space technology program that the University of Saskatchewan participated in called the NSERC CREATE International Space Mission Training Program.

Its goal is to boost Canada’s space efforts to develop the “next-generation of space technology and personnel,” according to the program’s website.

Pourkarim said the balloon reached altitudes of 22 kilometers and was in the air for about four hours.

Erik Stacey, who was also part of the team, said things didn’t go exactly to plan.

“The flight time was about an hour longer than we expected, but it landed relatively close to where we expected it to,” he said, adding it landed in a field near a lake.

The experience helped both Pourkarim and Stacey expand their skills in different ways.

“I didn’t have too much experience with the engineering side of things,” Pourkarim explained. “You need a lot of engineering in these in these type of missions. And I got to see especially what the software engineering part is doing and how significantly important and also (how) difficult it is to get this done.”

Stacey said his studies are mostly independent and it was a good experience working on a team.

“The focus of the CREATE program is really on learning how to collaborate in a professional environment. I had a personal project that I’ve been working on that I was immediately able to apply that experience to,” he said.

“There’s immediate tangible benefits of what I learned.”

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