Raider Vision in near space

Kaiserslautern High School’s Project Horizon team conducted a High Altitude Balloon launch and placed a suite of cameras and science experiments 35,596 meters into the stratosphere on June 7. The launch site for the team’s second HAB mission, nicknamed Raider II, took place in the beautiful vineyards of Bad Duerkheim.

The Raider II mission sought to obtain necessary atmospheric data to validate a number of hypotheses established throughout the school year. New sensors were added for this mission which included a new Geiger counter, ozone sensor and additional UV-A/B sensors. The team’s primary mission was to obtain as much data as possible to assess the overall effects of radiation in near space, specifically radiation within and above the ozone layer.

The team’s triangular flight frame served to house the team’s video capabilities. Three action cameras, plus one Cannon interval shot camera were placed firmly on the balsa wood frame alongside two GPS modules. Hanging below the flight frame was a payload filled with science experiments, sensors, and a new APRS tracking transmitter which allowed the team to track the vessel throughout the flight via unique ham radio call sign.

Graphic by sdecoret / Shutterstock.com

Many months of planning were required for the mission. The primary concern for the team was their ability to recover the payload. During the Raider I mission, the team actually lost their payload, although a specialized Spot Trace GPS system and standard GPS system were on board. Fortunately, the team was able to recover the payload thanks to the third and most essential of tracking systems, the sponsor’s name and phone number written on the frame.

Recovery of the payload for the Raider II mission was much better thanks to an improved APRS tracking system and virtual tracking center. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions and school closure, the team was not able to provide live on-site tracking. Instead, the team established an online Command and Control Center which would guide ground crews towards the landing site. This online collaboration effort paid large dividends as the students collectively maintained guidance and control throughout the mission.


The Project Horizon team will soon be planning their next mission — Raider III. For the Raider III mission, the team hopes to launch a multi-pod payload. Each payload will be dedicated to a partner school. Through this outreach partnership the team hopes to spark additional interest for all students of ages in the areas of aerospace and atmospheric studies.


For more information about Project Horizon, please see the official website – https://sites.google.com/student.dodea.edu/project-horizon/home