Physoc Outreach Launch 2

This is the second launch taking place as part of the Physoc Outreach team at the University of Southampton. We have a goal to engage young students at Toynbee School in exciting experiments to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.




The launch started out at a much more sociable 7am than the usual early starts. Cars were packed with launching equipment, team members were picked up and we made our way to the set and approved launch site for an 11:30am launch.

We arrived at the launch site and shortly after (with a few members getting lost in the forest) everyone started to arrive. About 20 children were present with their parents and teachers who had worked on the project and learnt a lot about the science behind the launches.

webspace ted136A

The launch site was extremely windy and holding on to the balloon was extremely difficult whilst it was filled and tied up ready for launch.

Launch Photo

The payload carried Derek (A.K.A. Superted), temperature sensors, two still digital cameras and a Contour Roam 2 HD Video camera which kept an eye on Derek throughout the flight.

Sky with Contrails

The payload went up to an amazing 34km up, way above the cruising altitude of planes, and down to a freezing -30 degrees Celsius!

The balloon popped and descended very quickly under parachute at high altitude, slowing at low altitudes for a very controlled and safe landing near Midhurst. Unluckily for us, the payload was stuck 10m up in a tree and the parachute stuck in another tree 30m away! Getting it down was going to be difficult.

Cait (somehow) managed to find a friendly lumberjack who helps us cut down the tree that our payload was stuck in and we managed to get back everything in one piece with the extremely brave bear none-the-worse for his flight.


Although a lot of the electronics had been tested previously and worked very well, our new addition was a Contour Roam 2 HD video camera which took all of the video of the launch. The battery lasted for just over 2 hours in the air, in 720p mode down to -30 degrees Celsius! It came back without a scratch and whilst the video stopped in flight as the temperature lowered (lower temperatures mean less battery capacity) the camera still turned on when it was recovered and we could take more footage with it.

In addition, we made it into the news! At the daily echo in the 5th March 2013 paper and at the following links:

We also got a 1 minute slot on the BBC Regional news on the 4th of March 2013

And here at ITV Meridian:
We ended up getting a 1-minute slot on the evening news too! All of the articles are available at:


And now in the Huffington Post: