Cedars pupils to blast spacecraft for the stars

Cedars students will launch the craft on Saturday (April 5), weather permitting.
Cedars students will launch the craft on Saturday (April 5), weather permitting.

A group of budding engineers from Cedars Upper School are shooting for the stars- as they are set to launch a hi-tech balloon into space.

The pupils, members of an engineering club at the school, have spent the last six months planning, building and sourcing parts for the craft which will be elevated 35km to the edge of space on Saturday (April 5).

At that height air pressure will burst the balloon, with the craft then designed to float back to earth thanks to an attached parachute.

Throughout the journey on board sensors will assess air pressure and altitude, while cameras will capture the path from the ground to the stars.

On its return back down students will track the payload using predictive software, weather forecasting and an on board GPS tracker- with a minibus on standby to chase the craft down somewhere across East Anglia.

Weather permitting the launch will take place from Cambridge University, due to airspace restrictions with Cedars’ proximity to Luton Airport.

The project was first conceived after design and technology team leader Paul Simmonds challenged students to take an interest in engineering.

More than 20 students then formed a club, and with expert guidance from a space outreach program at Southampton University devised and raised money for the spacecraft due to be launched.

Mr Simmonds said: “The students have done this all in their own time and I left them to it. It came after national reports of a shortfall of engineers coming through, we wanted to show students that there is alot to engineering.

“They have been inspired by the project and hopefully it will lead to alot more interest in the profession, especially among our sixth form students. The staff also can’t wait to see the results.”

Read Tuesday’s Leighton Buzzard Observer to see how the launch went.