West Ferris Near Space Program

The goal of the Near Space Project is to launch a camera-toting mini-computer, sensors and tracking equipment into Earth's stratosphere using a weather balloon. Our hope is to observe this journey live through the in-flight transmission of GPS location, images, video and sensor data. This is an opportunity for us to plan, execute and analyze the natural laws and our ability to exploit these laws in an application of physics and engineering.


This is not a simple task. Weeks of planning, organization, calculating and testing will be required to accomplish a successful launch and retrieval of the payload. The section below is a summary of some of the main tasks that must be accomplished.

This Introduction to High Altitude Ballooning (HAB) will help you begin to explore High Altitude Ballooning. Familiarize yourself with this material by reading about each component of the mission and viewing the websites and blogs of missions that have been accomplished both internationally, and in Canada.

These links will provide you with a complete description of all tasks that will be completed as we work through this project over the semester, both as a class group, and you as an individual student. The work that you do on this project will be evaluated and included as part of your course grade.

Class or Group Tasks

  1. RPi, Python, Cameras and Sensors

Individual Student Tasks

  1. Assignment 1


Date Group Task
Feb 11 Whole Class
  • Project Intro
  • Determining Tasks and Assignment
  • Payload Design Discussion
Feb 25 Whole class
Feb 27 Whole class
  Whole class
  • Use mass data and dimensions to plan a balanced component layout on grid paper
  • note that the antennas need to be vertical, cameras and sound beacon need to be external
  • do we need space in the box for flight train? (ex. cord in the corners)
  • decide what the top will look like/be made out of, and how it will be attached (most of it needs to be removable for equipment access)
  • determine where holes are required for the cameras and audio beacon