Mayville State University and Bismarck State University are working jointly on a near-space balloon launch project planned for September 9 and 10, 2016. Three pre-launch informational sessions will be held at the MSU Campus Center Luckasen Room Friday, Sept. 9. Weather-permitting, the launch of the camera-enabled balloon will take place Saturday, Sept. 10 at 7 a.m. in front of MSU’s power house. The public is invited to join in the launch and then help track the balloon to and from near-space.

The equipment involved in a near-space balloon launch includes a helium-filled balloon, which is about 15 feet in diameter on the ground, but swells to about 60 feet in the very low pressure of near-space. The balloon, which eventually bursts, is equipped with a camera and data sensors, and the attached parachute helps the payload package return safely to earth. The whole process of ascent and return to earth takes about two or three hours. The payload is tracked with GPS so that participants can retrieve it when it reaches the ground and later analyze the data captured.

High-altitude ballooning has a long history in facilitating scientific discovery in fields such as atmospheric science, meteorology, physics, chemistry, and remote sensing. It can also be a powerful motivational tool for students in K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education.

The near-space balloon launch at Mayville State University is being funded by Bismarck State College and Mayville State University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Division of Teacher Education, and Teaching Center. In case of poor weather conditions for the launch, an alternate date of September 24 is being reserved.

For further information, contact Dr. Aaron Kingsbury at