A photograph of the GURPSI balloon at the moment of burst 95,000 feet above the Allegheny National Forest.

Students in Gannon University’s School of Computer Science and Engineering successfully launched their senior design project 95,000 ft. into the atmosphere to record its flight and gather data for their analysis and capstone presentation.

The mild wind conditions and clear skies aided the launch in going as planned, explained Kramer. The “payload” (Raspberry Pi computer, GPS, camera, etc.) landed on its projected flight path traveling about 122 kilometers (76 miles) Gout Road in Meadville to the Alleghany National Forest. The travel distance fell just short of the students’ projected distance due to the balloon bursting slightly lower in the atmosphere than predicted. The balloon burst at 95,000 ft., as opposed to their projected 100,000 ft.

Footage of the launch and travel into the atmosphere, as well as the balloon burst, can be seen on the students’ project website at projectgurpsi.com.

The recovery of the payload did not come without hardship, however, and the students had to work with Alleghany Park Rangers to obtain trail maps to navigate the forest and retrieve their project, which landed off-path and in a tree.

“I give props to my team, ” said Kramer. “They were dedicated throughout it all; I was happy with how well they worked together. Dealing with the unknown is what is most important in a real engineering project and I’m very glad we were able to learn that.”