Crown College Ready to Take Flight in Global Space Balloon Challenge

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First-ever college or university in Minnesota to participate in this worldwide high-altitude balloon launch contest.

Part of it is the fun of getting engaged with science learning and not just learning about the concepts

At 11 a.m. on April 24, 2015, Crown College will take part in the Global Space Balloon Challenge, becoming the first-ever college or university in Minnesota to participate in the high-altitude balloon launch contest. This year, there are 288 teams registered in 47 countries, including teams from Stanford University, the University of Michigan and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“It’s more than just letting a helium balloon go in the sky like a kid that lost the ribbon,” said Dr. Thor Benson, associate professor of Teacher Education and Science and Honors Program Director at Crown College. “High altitude ballooning is a laboratory that changes every day.”

The inaugural balloon launch will take place at KleinBank Stadium on the Crown College campus.

The Crown College High Altitude Ballooning Research Team exists to facilitate collaborative research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education through high altitude ballooning. The team consists of Benson and Micah Ostegard, a sophomore at Crown College, double-majoring in Secondary Science Education and Biology.

“Part of it is the fun of getting engaged with science learning and not just learning about the concepts and reading from a textbook, but actually getting to test out the conceptual science and make it real,” Ostegard said.

The latex balloon, tethered to a parachute and outfitted with sensor systems, a GPS tracking system, three GoPro cameras and a ham radio system. It will ascend for 90-120 minutes at around 12,000 feet per minute before exploding at roughly 20 miles above the earth, Benson said. It will take an hour to float back down, taking photos and tracking data the entire way.

“We should get some pictures that will generate the curvature of the earth,” Benson said. “We should also get the instant at which the balloon explodes and falls out of the sky.” Benson and Ostegard completed a test launch on April 3 and hope this event will spur several more launches.

If winds are greater than 25 miles per hour on Friday, the launch will take place Monday, April 27. For more information on the Global Space Balloon Challenge, visit

About Crown College

Ranked among the “Best Midwest Regional Colleges” by US News & World Report, Crown College approaches nearly a century of preparing students for both service and leadership. A fully-accredited Christian college just west of Minneapolis, Crown offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in business, communications, counseling, criminal justice, education, leadership, ministry, nursing, and more. For more information, visit

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Shirley Granlund
Crown College
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