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Mission 3: Liftoff! Balloon Deployment and Data Collection

Published onSep 23, 2019
Mission 3: Liftoff! Balloon Deployment and Data Collection

In this mission, we’ll take to the field to launch our satellites into “orbit”! Using a tethered balloon, we’ll deploy our models to collect information about the local environment, and also create artworks using data and gravity.

Preparing a cube satellite for launching during an MIT workshop

To launch cube satellites into the air, we have been using Public Lab’s mylar balloon kit:

Example Schedule + Materials:

For a 90 minute session:

5 minutes - Settling in

10 minutes - Introducing Liftoff day!

  • Logistics for where launching will happen, safety, when to meet back, setc.

15 minutes - Preparing cube satellites

  • filling mylar balloons with Helium

  • attaching cube satellites to the balloons

  • attaching rope to cube satellites

5 minutes - going outside

30 minutes - Liftoff and collecting data!

5 minutes - coming back inside

20 minutes - Coming back together, saving data, share out, and talking about next session


  • Helium - we used about 1 tank (14.9 cubic ft) for every cube sat (~3 mylar balloons). Teams could also share mylar balloons if necessary.

  • Public Lab’s mini-balloon mapping kit per team

    • extra rubber bands, zip ties, tape for attaching cube satellites to balloons

    • scissors to cut zip ties, etc.

  • cube satellites

  • programmed payloads, computers

  • IMPORTANT: an open space away from power lines

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