Dunedin Space Programme members (from left) Anton Stuck
(12), of Kavanagh College, project co-ordinator Amadeo
Enriquez-Ballestero and Harrison Campbell (14), of Bayfield
High School, celebrate a successful mission to space. Photo
by Craig Baxter.
The Dunedin Space Programme had lift-off.
A year's planning went into Monday's launch of a balloon from
the shores of Lake Wakatipu - to 30km into space - and its
successful landing in a Ranfurly paddock.
The scenic launch site was determined by a computer program
which took into account the size of the balloon, payload and
weather conditions, to also fix its Ranfurly landing.
''It blew us away that we got it so incredibly close,''
project co-ordinator Amadeo Enriquez-Ballestero said.
A group of school-aged astronomy enthusiasts took part in the
planning, launch and recovery of the former Niwa weather
balloon, which was filled with 4cu m of helium courtesy of
''Every kid had a role ... When I was a kid I would have
loved to have done this,'' he said.
The balloon was carrying a box loaded with three cameras, one
of which was trained on two marshmallows dangling on a rope
as part of a space experiment.
''As the pressure decreases, the marshmallows expand as it
goes into space.''
Another aim of the expedition was to record the curvature of
the earth, he said.
A big part in the successful recovery was the ingenuity of an
8-year-old member of the group, who supplied a back-up GPS,
which was called into action when a computer failed.
''He saved the mission.''
That back-up plan helped the group locate the balloon with
barely minutes of daylight left.
Footage of the expedition, dubbed Operation ECO, would be
viewed for the first time by the group at Kavanagh College on