ARISS NEWS RELEASE (ANR) no.20-05 by Dave Jordan AA4KN, ARISS PR: Mid-Altitude Balloon Race Planned for June 1

Joanne Michael, KM6BWB Prepares                                                                                                          Mid-Altitude Balloon for Launch

Liam Kennedy, KN6EQU, displays                                                                                                      Skytracker Balloon Communication ‘Payload’

Ted Tagami, KK6UUQ and                                                                                                     Students Prepare for                                                                                                            Mid-Altitude Balloon Launch (Pre-COVID)

ARISS News Release No. 20-05 – Dave Jordan, AA4KN  ARISS PR


Coming Soon!!

Mid-Altitude Balloon Race Planned for June 1

Three Space Station Explorer teams participate in an exciting

distance learning—social distanced balloon race to be held during Pandemic

May 27, 2020—ARISS educator, Joanne Michael is an amateur radio operator with callsign KM6BWB. Joanne is also a science coach at the Wiseburn Unified School District in Los Angeles, California where she leads her students in several balloon launch attempts from the Los Angeles area each year. With this year different because of the pandemic, Joanne wanted to “shake things up a bit” and give students, world-wide, a unique distance learning treat while keeping all safe during the pandemic. So Joanne challenged Ted Tagami, KK6UUQ, from to a mid-altitude cross-continent balloon race and Ted accepted the challenge! Ted plans to launch his balloon from Oakland, California. ISS Above inventor, Liam Kennedy, KN6EQU, from Pasadena, California, got “wind” of the idea and he asked to participate, too. All three organizations: ARISS, and ISS Above are ISS National Lab Space Station Explorer (SSE) partners that work to inspire, engage, and educate students in Science Technology Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) topics and to pursue STEAM careers.

The three SSE teams plan to launch their balloons simultaneously on June 1st. The winner will be the first one to cross the “Finish Line”—the Eastern Time zone. Launch time is planned for 15:00 UTC/11:00 EDT/10:00 CDT/9:00 MDT/8:00 PDT. A live video feed of the launch is planned to start approximately 5 minutes prior to the event.

Once the balloons are airborne, students can track each balloon’s location, altitude, and temperature via amateur radio APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) which is fed automatically to the web site. Educators and parents around the globe can excite at-home youth with this initiative. Students can tally and track the states each balloon travels through and plot altitude versus temperature, etc. Also, by researching weather patterns, students can make assumptions from their own data. This could include speed variations due to weather. They also can predict each balloon’s flight path and when they might cross the finish line!

For more information on the balloon launch, lesson plans, and the livestream video link (when the livestream URL is available), please go to:

Enjoy the Race! May the best ballooner win!!


Leave a Reply