New Space and Tech

High Altitude Balloon Seeks To Photograph Endeavour’s Last Trip Into Space

By Keith Cowing
April 8, 2013
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When Space Shuttle Endeavour makes its final trip into space it will be under the watchful eye of a high altitude balloon built and flown by students and volunteers from across the U.S. This will be the second flight of a camera-equipped payload, the first having been successfully flown during in February 2011 when images were obtained of Space Shuttle Discovery’s launch from a vantage point of over 100,000 feet.
This balloon mission will be conducted by Quest for Stars, a non profit educational organization, in coordination with the Challenger Center for Space Science Education and the Coalition for Space Exploration.

The intent of these balloon flights is to bring together students and citizens from across a broad range of backgrounds who would not normally have contact with a mission to the edge of space. The Coalition for Space Exploration is seeking to enhance public participation and outreach with regard to the benefits of space exploration as well as the sheer excitement of taking part in a mission to a remote location such as these high altitude balloon missions offer.

Much of the mission’s excitement will be felt in Senatobia, Mississippi. Senatobia was one of two communities that originally suggested the name “Endeavour” as a possible name for the Space Shuttle being built to replace Space Shuttle Challenger which was lost in 1986. The launch of Endeavour and the balloon mission will be webcast live over the Senatobia school district’s TV system. On board will be signatures gathered from a large number of students in Senatobia wishing a speedy recovery for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, wife of STS-134 commander Mark Kelly.

In California, students from High Tech High Media Arts in San Diego – Point Loma have served as payload specialists and students from Westview High School in San Diego provided assistance with power system and camera integration. In Florida, a group of volunteers from the Daytona Beach HAM Club and the local Search and Rescue team will use tracking and recovery efforts as a training session.

The helium-filled balloon carrying the “Senatobia-1” payload will be launched from the vicinity of Gainesville, Florida. The expected balloon launch time is on Monday, 16 May between 7:30 to 7:45 am EDT. This will allow the balloon and its payload to be in position at an altitude of approximately 100,000 feet for Endeavour’s supersonic transit of the stratosphere beginning with a planned liftoff at 8:56 am EDT. If there is a delay in the launch of Endeavour the Quest for Stars team is ready to try again – several times – on subsequent days.

Live video of mission activities will be streamed during the mission starting approximately 30 minutes before launch. Other updates during the mission will include live tracking information and video from the balloon during ascent and descent. For video and other information during the mission please go to .

You can also follow the mission’s progress via Twitter at .

About Quest for Stars

Quest for Stars is a nonprofit organization that works in partnership with high schools and middle schools to bring the excitement of sending small payloads to the edge of space on high altitude balloons and then retrieving them. Quest for stars provides all materials and FAA interfacing required to launch weather balloons into the stratosphere. Their staff consists of private pilots, electronic experts, and mechanical engineers who ensure that launch vehicles meet all federal regulations. For more information visit

About Challenger Center for Space Science Education

Challenger Center for Space Science Education and its international network of 48 Challenger Learning Centers create educational experiences that raise students’ expectations of success, fosters a long-term interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and inspires students to pursue studies and careers in these areas. To learn more about Challenger Center for Space Science Education, visit

About the Coalition for Space Exploration

The Coalition for Space Exploration is a group of space industry businesses and advocacy groups that collaborates to ensure that the United States remains the leader in space, science and technology by reinforcing the value and benefits of space exploration with the public and our nation’s leaders, and building lasting support for a long-term, sustainable strategic direction for space exploration. To learn more visit

Quest for Stars Mission Contact:

Bobby Russell
+1.858.349.5701 (cell)

Challenger Center Contact:
Angie Tenne
Challenger Center for Space Science Education
300 N. Lee Street, Suite 301, Alexandria, VA 22314

Related links

Photo of a Photo On-orbit

Video: Robonaut-1: Time Lapse View: Entire flight from Liftfoff to Touchdown

HD Video From The Edge of Space – Director’s Cut

HD Video From The Edge of Space

Video: Robonaut-1: Balloon Burst and Freefall

First Photos: Watching Discovery From Above The Sky

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.