The goal of the project is to construct an atmospheric probe and equip it with different sensors. The probe will be mounted on a meteorological balloon, and lifted to approximately 35 000 m (115 000 ft). The ascent and descent will be recorded with two on-board GoPro cameras, and the probe will be tracked via GPS. The projects name is VIC GOES TO SPACE - all the students attend the VIC HIGH SCHOOL (VI C is pronounced EXACTLEY like witch :) )
This project requires a somewhat bigger group of students - around 30. It is best suited for older high school students, with a preference for natural studies (physics, chemistry and biology), and love for technical skills.
At the beginning of students were divided into teams, and each of them was assigned a specific tasks: adaptation of specific sensors, design of the probe, design of the parachute, adaptation of the data acquisition device (DAQ) and GPS device, preparation of the biological samples. During the building stage the groups had to communicate with each other in order to get optimal sensor results. Each team had to keep a work journal and make a detailed work report at the end (will be added).
Students used the VERNER sensors and DAQ – Vernier supplies most of the equipment to our school, so it was the most convenient choice for us.  But you can use any kind of DAQ, sensors and GPS system you can get.

NOTE: Due to the current weather situation in Slovenija the launch date is somewhere in the beginning of march, but we published all of the test launches. The flight movie will be updated ASAP, so be sure to follow us :)

This instructable was written (except the intro) and edited by the students.

  • atmospheric pressure
  • UVA and UVB radiation
  • ideal gas law, lift
  • atmospheric gas composition
  • Verner sensors datasheets
  • living organisms in extreme conditions (extremophiles)
  • electric current, Joule heat
  • heat conductivity, thermal conduction
  • GPS positioning systems
  • air drag
  • combustion
  • buoyancy

  • By disassembling the sensors, making adjustments and building the probe, the students will learn to handle hand tools, power tools, how to solder and use appropriate safety measures.
  • Students will develop creative problem solving skills as they will have to deal with a number of technical issues. They will develop team communication, and will learn to constructively interacts with team members and other teams in order to reach the goal.
  • By building a hot wire foam lathe students will learn about the practical use of Joule heating, Joules First Law, electric conductivity and effects of high temperature on different materials (pvc, Styrofoam, etc...)
  • By designing and building a parachute the students will learn about air drag, terminal velocity and will learn to handle a sewing machine.
  • By examining the microorganism the students will learn about the living conditions of the extremophiles and will be able to predict their survival rate in extreme conditions.
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smoosh90102 months ago
How much would this cost? Just asking. So cool!
rokcapuder (author)  smoosh90102 months ago

Hi, thank you very much. We actually did three launches after the first one, and after optimization, the total cost of the last launch was around 800 USD (helium is quite expensive here in Europe). If you want I can give you a complete list of the materials we used, and the places we got them!

killerbob554 months ago

hey my is Neil and am planning to make a interstellar space craft and im going in it

errr...I'm pretty sure that you need a permit from the local air traffic control...

goatmilt1 year ago
I'm a little late but, great work!
mvuherer2 years ago
Slovenija <3
omnibot2 years ago
Congratulations on making, launching and finding your own awesome spaceprobe!
rokcapuder (author)  omnibot2 years ago
Thank you.
antoniraj2 years ago
rokcapuder (author)  antoniraj2 years ago
Thank you!
lslonim2 years ago
Is there a web link to get information on the launch? Did it happen?
KahlZun2 years ago
Hey guys, March has now been and gone!
Was looking forward to hearing about your results!

Was it launched? Did it work? Did you get it back?

dying to know!
ndpmcintosh3 years ago
Congratulations on this excellent Instructable. I like how it requires the integration of so many different skills and techniques for one over-arching purpose.

Not sure about the use of Cryptococcus as a model organism though. Some species are pathogenic (C. neoformans and C. gattii) so unless you can identify them to genus, you are better off avoiding Cryptococcus altogether.
jessejwk3 years ago
So... it's March 8! Any progress? I'm excited to see your results!
boyercam3 years ago
I'm very sorry to announce but James May beat you.
James May's Man Lab UK BBC2

And to make it worse it had 3 Go Pros AND Rtty gps and altitude beacon
And the BBC have done it again. This time Orbit and to make matters worse. It was the same as yours. Well when I say exactly they didn't use a 20 kg weight to enclose everything but some cheap polostyrine with "This is a science experiment. If found call 07800 123 456" The space industry is VERY expensive...

... well at least until the BBC half it, Again.
rokcapuder (author)  boyercam3 years ago
Oh man - what I'd give for his budget ;)
You guys are really inspirational! I just wish my school had had projects half this awesome :-)
one small step for captain slow, one boredom-induced stupor for mankind. although he is much more awesome than clarkson and hammond....
If you don't believe me (but you probably do anyway) here is a link for a video on youtube:

Please watch as it is funny!
No seriously, watch it, it's quite amazing.
KahlZun3 years ago
Please let us know how it went! Dying of suspense!
salec3 years ago
I am wondering ... could you prevent the burst of the balloon by encasing it into a bag (much wider then balloon at surface atmospheric pressure, of course) made of light, strong fabric, or into a sort of net? I have seen old photos of stratospheric crewed balloons of Auguste Picard and it seems like he did something like that, unless what I've seen in photos were parachutes placed over balloons in advance, to be ready deployed as soon as balloons burst.

Surely that would limit the ceiling height of the probe, because in ever thinner air, the balloon must expand to displace more of it, to retain buoyancy or else the ascend stops, but OTOH it could then loiter up there for a while, and that could provide more data for your experiment.

Did you test the type of balloon you would be using? How much do they expand under pressure difference (it never exceeds 1bar from here to outer space) and what is minimal and what is average pressure difference at which they burst?
Jsquared243 years ago
I will have to organise my school to do that! Awesome job!
rokcapuder (author)  Jsquared243 years ago
Thanks - if you do, maybe we can do some kind of knowledge exchange - perhaps some on line conference or similar?Our students would definitely like the collaboration - what school are you from?
I tried to organise it with my school, but the teacher who i asked said that the school didnt have enough money :( Oh well, ill try and do it in my own time.
smuc3 years ago
Nice project. Post results here too :D
rokcapuder (author)  smuc3 years ago
Thanks! We definitely will!
S.TALKER3 years ago
Hello! A similar project in Russia was a competition where I won the contest of ideas.
Read here:
rokcapuder (author)  S.TALKER3 years ago
wish the site was in english :)
rokcapuder (author)  S.TALKER3 years ago
very nice, really. Love the study of the balloon and probe rotation in the wind !
bwrussell3 years ago
Great Instructable and project, I wish we had done this back when I was in school.

One comment though, did you consider the possibility of high winds in the upper atmosphere? There was one similar amateur balloon launched probe I was checking out that actually was flipped end over end when passing through a high wind area. I would be concerned about the exposed parachute opening on the ascent, at a minimum it could drag the probe a lot further laterally than anticipated and worst case could break free entirely leaving the probe to free fall back down. I wouldn't delay the launch, just something to consider if you and your students can come up with a solution before launch day.

Good luck, looking forward to the videos.
what if they used a simple device (you could use an arduido nano, and altitude sensor, and a servo) to release the parachute from some sort of door or simply pull it out of a hole in a little capsule when it reached a certain altitude? this would prevent unexpected winds from tearing the parachute off before it was deployed. by the way, i tend to be better at things at lower altitudes (jets, planes, helis, etc) than i am at high altitude physics. if i am missing something that should be obvious, please do not yell at me.
Yelling rarely accomplishes anything.

The one issue is the temp which can reach -40 C during a trip to 35km. Temps that low drain batteries much faster which could lead to no chute deployment with an electronic release system. A mechanical air speed "sensor" oriented to measure relative speed when the probe is falling could work around the battery issue but a strong gust of wind blowing up under the probe could still deploy the chute early. I've been slowly getting the parts together to launch a similar probe and was going to test a system where the chute is actually stored inside the inflated balloon. Then when you reach altitude and the balloon pops the chute is deployed. Like @rokcapuder points out below a lot of this come down to luck.
rokcapuder (author)  bwrussell3 years ago
Temperature was one of the primary concerns. We are using graphite enriched styrofoam, and we calculated that the temperature inside would drop to 0°C after about 50 minutes, without any additional heating.
But the probe has a heating element inside and the air compressor also generates some heat, so I think we'll be fine.
Yes in some aspects you just cant be sure. Let's hope for the best!!!
rokcapuder (author)  bwrussell3 years ago
Thanks !
The lateral drag is not a big concern, we plan to find the probe within the day of the launch.
As for high altitude winds - we are working with the national weather centre and if the vertical winds above 25 km reach more than 30 m/s we will have to postpone the launch. The probes strings are approx 2 m long and even if the probe flips it wont catch the chute.
The strings of the probe/parachute can hold the force of 800 N (80 kg) each, and we have 8 of them. The probe is assembled together via an aluminium belt - so that should should hold as well. The string holding the balloon holds 1000 N (100 kg), so it should in the rare case break first, and so protect the probe.
Of course there is the ''luck'' factor here, and I hope it's on our side!
libed913 years ago
Prav lepo je videti kakšen tak slovenski projekt na tej strani!
Čestitke da si prišel med featured ;)
rokcapuder (author)  libed913 years ago
Hvala :)
silveruno3 years ago
What about airplanes, is there no risc of one hitting the probe, did you have to get a permission to launch the probe ?

rokcapuder (author)  silveruno3 years ago
yes we had - there is some risk, but there is not much air traffic in Slovenija, so the Flifgt Ageny gave us a safe time window in which we must launch the balloon.
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