What’s better than having your science experiment flown aboard one of the most sophisticated gliders in the world? Having that same aircraft break the world’s altitude record for glider flight with your experiment on board!
On Sunday, September 3, 2017, Airbus Perlan Mission II, the world’s first initiative to send an engineless aircraft to the edge of space, made history in the Patagonia region of Argentina by soaring to over 52,000 feet and setting a new world altitude record for gliding. Students from the CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering and their advisor Rachael Manzer, science and engineering teacher at the Academy, joined students, scientists and international press for a Skype news conference arranged by Perlan Project CEO Ed Warnock to officially announce the record-breaking flight.
CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering students and their advisors, Manzer and Josh Madore, have been working for two years designing, building and testing their own NASA Cubesat experiments to be taken aboard high altitude flights of the Perlan II, as well as a NASA test rocket.
Their project explores the effect of vibration and weightlessness on a byproduct of soldering electrical components called “Tin Whiskers.” These tiny floating pieces of metal can be a major problem that can plague sophisticated electronics when launched into orbit. The student’s experiments were designed to collect data about when and how this hazard is created and ways it could be minimized in future missions. Little did the students realize that their project would be part of a milestone of aerospace history!
“We are celebrating an amazing victory for aerospace innovation and scientific discovery today, and we’re so thankful to all the volunteers and sponsors whose years of tireless dedication have made this achievement possible,” said Warnock.
“We will continue to strive for even higher altitudes, and to continue our scientific experiments to explore the mysteries of the stratosphere. We’ve made history, but the learning has just begun.”
Part of the purpose for testing such high altitude gliders is that the conditions mimic those that aircraft would have to confront on the planet Mars. The thinner atmosphere and intensive winds of the red planet present numerous challenges to both the design and the piloting of such craft.
For 10th grader Johnathan B., being part of such a project brings him one step closer to his dream, “I have wanted to be an astronaut since I was a little kid and this just inspires me even more.”
Ninth grade student Ava K. was intrigued by the pivotal role the science of meteorology played in the project, “I really think I want to be a meteorologist and study the weather when I get older.”
The significance of such “Real World” projects for student were summed up best by Manzer, “Fantastic opportunities such as these inspire students to picture themselves in STEM careers regardless of their background, race or gender.
Working on these projects with actual scientists, captivates their imagination and allows them to envision themselves as the scientists, engineers, explorers and creators, of the future society in which they will live whether it be on earth or out among the planets.”
The Skype press conference featured: Perlan CEO Ed Warnick with the Perlan II team in Argentina, Elizabeth Austin, Perlan chief meteorologist in Nevada, Caroline Gelb at the World Science Festival, as well as international press and students from schools in North Carolina, Puerto Rico and from the CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering in Windsor CT.
You can find out more about the project by going to links for the Airbus Perlan Mission II: http://www.airbus.com/newsroom/press-releases/en/2017/09/perlan-sets-new-world-record.html the Cubesat Project http://www.cubesat.org/ or CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering: http://aaen.crecschools.org/
The Capitol Region Education Council was established in 1966. Working with and for its member districts, CREC has developed a wide array of cost-effective and high-quality programs and services to meet the educational needs of children and adults in the region. CREC regularly serves 36 towns in Greater Hartford, offering more than 120 programs to more than 150,000 students annually. CREC manages more than 35 facilities throughout the area, including 19 interdistrict magnet schools. More information about CREC or CREC’s award-winning Magnet Schools is available at www.crec.org.