LEAF Project launch successful
On June 1, the Low Energy Ablative Flyer (LEAF) Project team successfully launched a high altitude balloon at Moses Lake with the goal of showing that a plasma thruster could work at high altitudes and eventually be adapted for space applications.
The balloon soared to a maximum height of 105,000 feet. Diagnostics were taken onboard and data was continually streamed to the ground during the flight, said research scientist Robert Winglee, WSGC director and chair of the UW Department of Earth and Space Sciences.
A four-minute video of the flight shows the curve of the Earth and actual space, as well as the launch and return.
The team was composed of UW graduate student lead Ian Johnson and Race Roberson and Nao Murakami; undergraduate lead Craig Foulds and Tyler Bickley, Eleni Boheck, Chris Bricket, Jon Casey, Eduardo Chipres, Tom Esser, David Foulds, Sarah Harvey, Michael Hughes, Brenna Tuller-Ross, Chad Truitt and Brian Walter. Also serving on the team was volunteer Nigel Vander Houwen.
The next step will be to refurbish the payload and place on a rocket to potentially take it to higher altitudes, and eventually to place on a small CubeSat for space operations.
Funding for the project was provided by WSGC and the Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation.