High Altitude Ballooning

First to Space with Nova

Nova is our student-run project to develop high-altitude lighter-than-air craft to reach the edge of space. High altitude vehicles, reaching between 25-40km, have a massive range of applications from education and atmospheric research to platforms for launching rockets into space. Nova’s initial aim was to develop highly adaptable vehicles that can be used for a wide variety of applications to enable the exploration of high-altitude flight. Now, it serves as a testbed for Comet & Martlet electronics. High altitude balloons continue to be a core component of our spaceflight activity.



Teddies in Space

Launched to Space on a High Altitude Balloon.

Important Nova Projects

CUSF Nova 19

Nova 19

Another UK altitude record for CUSF at 36.206 km! The dual payload consisted of the Squirrel project using a Nexus One smartphone flight computer and the Weasel payload, consisting of an Arduino tracker and a Canon A560 camera.

Nova 8

Our second dawn launch aiming to capture sunrise from near space and test a new prediction and tracking system. We launched at 4:07am watched by a large number of people via Ustream, with our telemetry also streamed. The payload was the Badger 1 flight computer, three digital cameras plus the HAPS-D (High Altitude Photo System Dawn) camera.

The predictive tracking used wind speed and drag data collected during the flight to update the team with the possible landing site. The model proved to be a great success – we were able to drive and wait less than one kilometer from the actual landing site. The only slight disappointment was that we only reached 32.9 km so our previous altitude record still stands.

Nova 7

This was our first dawn launch, aiming to photograph sunrise from near space. We calculated a launch window of 3:10-3:20am, prepared the payload and got off the ground at 3:21am. In hindsight, an earlier launch would have provided a better altitude at sunrise.

Telemetry was good again, and we were remotely tracked live on the highaltitude99 forum by those who stayed up to see the record being broken again. Sadly, a problem with the onboard cameras occurred, resulting in only getting a few decent pictures before the cameras cut out. The photo shown here is one of the tantalising few that came out, and it is easily enough to spur us into doing another dawn launch soon.

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