WSU students launch Coug flag 100,000 feet



Posted on May 16, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Updated Friday, May 16 at 7:18 PM

PULLMAN, Wash. -- A Washington State University flag attached to a weather balloon launched from the Pullman campus and went further than anyone had planned.

On Friday, WSU leaders said the balloon reached nearly 100,000 feet. The flight was part of a WSU Physics and Astronomy Club student project. It was launched in April with a camera attached.

WSU Physics major, Chad Garrison and a couple of his fellow students in the club got the idea. It involved a large weather balloon, helium gas, a Go-Pro camera and a WSU flag.

“When we initially had it going, I thought maybe it was just going to start barely rising it just was going to float away and not really go anywhere,” said Garrison.

The balloon ended up rise quickly. Thirteen minutes into the flight, it ascended through a hailstorm and continued to rise above white clouds scattered across the sky.

“We were shocked. That’s the best way to put it because we were only aiming for 50,000 and somehow we ended up doubling it,” said Garrison.

The WSU flag soared to 98,093 feet above earth. The video shows the curvature of the earth, the sun, moon and the blackness of space.

Garrison and his friends calculated the landing site to be more than 60 miles southeast of Pullman. A GPS attached to the balloon helped them retrieve their gear.

The flag is now up for auction. It runs until May 24. Proceed will fund future flights.

The club hopes to make this an annual event.