St Andrews Academy HAB flight saved by Manx miracle

st andrews

This weeks HAB flight by St Andrews Academy in Paisley. proved that sometimes you need a little luck to safely recover your payload. Supported by Near Space Photography, St Andrews Academy in Scotland launched their STEM HAB project on Monday 8th June. Mr Henry, the school head teacher described the successful launch. Mr Henry said, “The launch went well, lovely weather and quite still at ground level. We pretty much emptied the helium tank, gauge was reading zero. The lift looked good and it quickly gained altitude. The school students loved it and we had some kids from the local Additional Support Needs school over as well. ” The weather balloon was launched at 12:30 but unfortunately the balloon did not rise to the planned ascent rate. The balloon was expected to land in the north side of Galloway Forest but the balloon kept on rising over the forest and headed out to sea just after 3pm. We all thought the payload was lost. forecats vs spot reports Then at 6pm a miracle. the SPOT tracker checked in on it’s way down over the Isle of Man. This was truly good fortune. After 20 tense minutes where the payload descended perilously close to the west coast of man, the payload finally came to rest close to the village of St John and the famous monument of Tynwald. It was truly a miracle!

landing site

More on the story is covered here

Nasa launches helium balloon to test Mars landings


Nasa has launched a helium balloon to test possible landing systems for future flights to Mars.

The balloon took off from Hawaii carrying an experimental saucer-shaped weight.

Nasa wants to see whether this parachute can slow down the saucer when it is dropped – and whether this technology could be used for Mars landings.

Recent Air proximity alert involving a weather balloon

A recent air proximity alert, AIRPROX REPORT No 2015005, has served as a reminder to pilots to check for sites launching meteorological balloons along their route. It also reminds balloon operators of the need to get appropriate permission for their high altitude balloon launch.

The report was made by a pilot of a  SAAB 2000 who reported being on a descent into Scatsta. When passing FL70, the crew observed a white Met balloon. The pilot reported that they first had visual contact approximately 5nm away. The pilot elected to take a turn of 20° to avoid the balloon. The weather balloon passed down their right-hand side at a distance of 400m.

For the full report go to

South Korean authorities clamp down on propaganda high altitue balloons


south korea

BBC journalist David Lee reports on the ongoing efforts of South Korean groups to send news, money, and aid to North Koreans using high altitude balloons. It seems that South Korean authorities are making an effort to curb the balloon launches. It seems that the balloons still lack basic safety devices such as parachutes to slow the payloads down on landing. It also seems like the payloads are released by simple electronic timer mechanisms. You can only imagine that these flights are not done with any approval from local civil aviation authorities.

Cosmoprene balloons come to HAB Supplies web store


Near Space Photography is proud to offer Cosmoprene balloons at the Near Space Photography web store, HAB Supplies. Cosmoprene balloons are made by the Weather Balloon Manufacturing Co. Ltd of Japan and are a high quality weather balloon product. According to the manufacturers web site,

“The Weather Balloon Manufacturing company is an old and well established company in its field. It was established in 1894 and has been making balloons for over 100 years. COSMOPRENE is an excellent balloon for Meteorological Observation,

easy to handle, can be released under any weather condition and

capable of fast rising, both daytime and night use without any pre-heating.

The balloons are made from natural rubber (Latex) or synthetic rubber which has a high efficiency and is very reliable.

Unlike Chinese and Indian weather balloons which are produced by a dip methos, Cosmopere balloons are moulded. This means that the product performance is a lot more uniform. Cosmoprene balloons also use a higher quality talk. This means that much less talk has to be used on the balloon reducing weught.

COSMOPRENE has been accepted by the Japan Meteorological Agency,

Japan Defense Agency and World Meteorological Society as an approved product for meteorological use.

COSMOPRENE leads the world by its proven performance.”

HAB Supplies price list is as follows:-

2000gm Cosmoprene balloon £149.95

1500gm Cosmoprene balloon £82

1200gm Cosmoprene balloon £59.95

 800gm Cosmoprene balloon £35.95

 600gm Cosmoprene balloon £26.95

 350gm Cosmoprene balloon £19.95

The Stratocache ‘Big Seed’ flies into the Global Space Balloon Challenge


Stratocaching was one of the first efforts to bring the hobby of HAB into the mainstream. The second has been the Global Space Balloon challenge sponsored by Google. This year the two combined when the Stratocache Superseed made an appearance during the GSBC.

drop onion

Ivan at Stratocache  picks up the story of it’s flight in the GSBC.

” We were trying to develop the Stratoaching idea after two big events in 2013 and 2014 (see We were hosted by the official meteorological ballon of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute and focused on our innovated Stratocache “Superseed” design – flying module inspired by natural maple seed. In the Global Space balloon Challenge we flew a payload with this single large seed, dropped it, and recorded the footage of it flying.



The videos and photos are quite hypnotic – on the way up the GoPro camera captured vertical scenes, after automatic release (60 mins of flight, altitude 18.100) the seed starts to rotate…

We still need to develop the automatic launch mechanism as the electronic timer is not ideal. We think it is best if the component is mechanical and allows to launch the seed exactly at the time of balloon burst to get the maximal altitude.

After finishing this component (already in progress), we plan to study the interesting behavior of the seed in higher altitudes. Our main aim is to start a cooperation with a scientific institution.

In the Global Space Balloon Challenge we used the GSM tracker to make it more consumer-friendly and ready for potential future commercial package (no radioamateurs needed). The tracker works precisely now, it was exactly on the position it reported (+-2metres). The disadvantage is that we could not track the whole flight after releasing from the probe balloon.

As for the next big Stratocaching events  – we have a new opportunity in Slovakia now (realisation partners and permissions secured), if this works well, we will work with the last years model of dropion gondola +GSM tracker seeds + live stream.”

Simpler 360 degree videos coming soon to HAB

This year there have been several attempts to make simple 360 degree videos during HAB flights. The process of making the videos, which can be shown on virtual reality head sets, is about to get a lot easier with Go Pro coming to market with a 360 degree adapter and software to do the image stitching. BBC reporter  picks up the story in this article


“Mr Woodman (of Go Pro ) also showed off a prototype mount that can hold six of his firm’s Hero4 cameras, each pointing in a different direction.

He said the resulting footage could be stitched together using software developed by Kolor – a start-up it bought last month – to create a single 6K-quality 360-degree image.

This could then be used with virtual reality helmets – allowing a user to change their perspective by turning their head left and right and looking up and down – or via YouTube and Facebook, which are both adding support for interactive spherical videos.


The Six-Camera Spherical Array add-on will go on sale later this year.

Mr Woodman acknowledged, however, that the high cost of buying enough cameras to fill it was likely to limit the mount’s appeal to professionals.”

Facebook plans to offer spherical videos on it’s social media site and Youtube is planning a similar offering.