University of Idaho Students to Launch NASA Funded Project

Tuesday, April 6 2010

April 6, 2010

MOSCOW, Idaho – The University of Idaho Near Space Engineering Team, Vandal Atmospheric Science Team, is planning to launch a high altitude balloon on Saturday, April 10. The launch time and location will depend upon weather conditions on the morning of the launch.

The goal of the April 10 flight is to measure the aerodynamic stability of a small capsule descending underneath a cross-parachute.

The capsule, carried under the balloon, will be released by command from the ground and will descend under parachute. Real-time GPS tracking of the flight from launch, through probe release, to impact will allow the probe to be recovered after landing. Funded by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the flight will provide a demonstration of the ability of the cross-parachute to provide a stable probe descent for possible future entry probe missions to Venus.

Members of the VAST communications team will track the flight from Steptoe Butte, while other team members will participate in launch, tracking and recovery operations. The flight can be tracked on the Internet at using the call signs KE7SYH or W7UQ-W7. Current information about the flight plan can be found on the program’s Web site, Real-time status and updates on the launch time and location will be provided on Twitter at

Funded by the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium, the Idaho Research Involving Student Engineers and Educators (RISE) program is the student near space engineering program for the state of Idaho. To date, Idaho VAST, the University of Idaho chapter of Idaho RISE, has conducted nearly 20 successful launches, flights and recoveries, reaching altitudes in excess of 100,000 feet. RISE is a multidisciplinary project open to students of all class levels and from any discipline. The project offers valuable experience for students in the areas of leadership, teamwork and communication, as well as hands-on experience in engineering design, development and implementation of high-altitude science and engineering instrumentation. Many VAST members have presented results at professional scientific conferences, and have participated in summer internships with NASA. NASA now employs several former VAST team members.

The public is welcome to attend the launch. For more information, please e-mail the student project manager Brandy Holmes, graduate student in mechanical engineering, at
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About NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium
The NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium was established in 1991 as part of the NASA National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program. The ISGC comprises 22 institutions including all colleges and universities in the state, science centers and museums, science organizations, state departments, industry representatives, a state park, and a national monument.

About the University of Idaho

Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 130 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. The university is home to the Vandals, the 2009 Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl champions. For information, visit

Media Contacts: Brandy Holmes,; or Shandy Lam, Communications Assistant, (208) 885-6030, More information is on the Web: or

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit