"Near Space" Launch a Success

By: Daniel Kemp Email
By: Daniel Kemp Email

July 14 marks the beginning of a new initiative for Kentucky Space, a program that's pushing the envelope in science, technology and innovation.

This afternoon, WBKO's Daniel Kemp headed to the Bowling Green-Warren County Airport to see those ideas liftoff.

Preparations were underway for a first near-space launch.

"The coolest part of it is they're going to be two cameras, so this thing is going to go up in space and you're going to be able to see the horizon and the curvature of the earth," said Sam Hishmeh, a Kentucky Space team member and UK grad student.

It's a massive helium-filled balloon that for a little more than two hours, will conduct scientific research using scientific tools, mostly.

"I think they've got gummi bears, marshmallows, slime and goo and they're going to see what happens to it up in space," explained another Kentucky space member.

Balloon-1, as it's called, will also test the earths magnetic field and pressure.

It's all in an effort to try and spark a space interest in the minds of children.

"We're trying to reach out to K through 12 students to encourage them to become interested in satellite and space technology," explained Hishmeh.

It's not just for the young, but also those young at heart. It gives university students a unique learning opportunity.

"I think hands on experience is critical," stated Kris Kilmer, director of the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation
"When you're dealing with new technology there's really no substitute for getting your hands dirty and rolling up your sleeves and putting together and designing the technology."

With a few last minute additions, Balloon-1 is set for takeoff, bringing everyone together in the name of science.

"It's almost gone, I know it is," exclaimed one young witness.

"I enjoy seeing the children here and being interested in seeing this thing go to space and see this spark their interest, as I think it would me if I were their age," said Hishmeh.

Those with Kentucky Space say the liftoff went without a hitch.

We spoke with one of the balloon chasers, and he says the balloon eventually made its descent back to earth as it was supposed to.

They found the balloon about eight miles outside of Scottsville.


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