Our fourth balloon project, LunarHAB, was conceived with one goal in mind: capture the September 27-28th lunar eclipse from near space. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are nearly exactly aligned with the Earth in the middle. This causes the Earth's shadow, or umbra, to be cast onto the Moon. This particular eclipse was also special because the moon was at its perigee in orbit around the Earth. The overlap of these two lunar phenomena had not occurred since 1982 and will not occur again until 2033.

We launched HAB-4 from Sam Smith Park in Cartersville, Georgia. This location was chosen for its distance from Atlanta, in hopes that low light pollution would result in better photographs. Photography of the eclipse was the focus of our payload. Although we did extensive testing and planning, the weather was poor at the time of launch and the cloudy night resulted a failure to capture the true beauty of the eclipse.


Launched and recovered on May 2nd of 2015, HAB-3 was our entry into the 2015 Global Space Balloon Challenge. With our sights set on the prize for best video, we chose to launch our balloon from the middle of Lake Allatoona. Makers Club founder James Kolsby provided his videography skills, and we were able to put together an incredible video for the competition, viewable here. This video won first prize, beating out over 300 teams from 48 different countries.

Our goals with HAB-3 were to get great video footage both from the balloon and from the ground, to collect data from near space using our custom built Arduino Datalogger, and to generally improve upon HAB-2. Designing this payload included 3D printing custom sensor mounts, optimizing HAM radio performance, and figuring out how to supply both onboard GoPros with enough power to last the whole flight.


After the success of HAB-1, we were quick to begin work on our second balloon. Launched and recovered on Sunday, March 15th of 2015, HAB-2 built on the payload design of HAB-1. Adding 2 more GoPros, an Arduino Datalogger, and a few minor payload modifications while decreasing overall payload size was the overall result of our hard work. Cole Johnson, a member of the Makers Club, made a video of the balloon launch which can be viewed here.

Due to a last minute launch day issue with Arduino wiring, we were not able to use the datalogger on this balloon. Recovery was made difficult by the radar reflector landing on top of our SPOT GPS upon the payload's landing, which blocked GPS signal. After a long and tiring adventure in Washington, GA, we recovered the payload with the assistance of a local police officer, Officer Jackie. This recovery story is documented here.


The HAB-1 project was initially inspired by the Global Space Balloon Challenge, an event hosted by aerospace engineers from Stanford University, the University of Michigan, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). We built HAB-1 to practice for this competition and to complete our first attempt at a payload design. We used a 1200 gram balloon that ascended to an altitude of approximately 85,000ft.

Our payload included a GoPro Hero 2 for video recording, and a SPOT GPS in order to help locate and find the balloon upon its return to the Earth's inner atmosphere. We planned for the payload to include an APRS radio transmitter, but due to a last-minute dilemma regarding a lack of helium, we had to extricate this component.

We went on to compete in the Global Space Balloon Challenge in Spring 2015.