Our pilot 'Gerald'. Given by a Y6 pupil at HeathfieldOur payload takes shapePredicting flight pathsCaitlin gets to work on our antenna

Space Programme

On the 7th March 2016, after six months of planning and preparations by staff and students at Rishworth School, we launched to the stratosphere a payload containing two Raspberry Pi computers, camera equipment, various sensors and a BBC micro:bit. In doing so, we learnt that the sky is no longer the limit.

22.03.16 BBC newsround

Today Mr Bell and Katie (Year 7) appeared on BBC Newsround to talk about the BBC micro:bit. Watch the videos here:

21.03.16 space project hits the media

Today was a great day for the Space Project as the media report about Rishworth School going to space. The Yorkshire Post featured a wonderful article about the mission and Dara O'Briain talks about the project on Radio 2. You can listen to the story through the following link:


14.03.16 a video story of our LAUNCH DAY

“Science and technology is so much more than I thought it was. There is so much to explore and learn, and every part brings new experiences. I've learnt that there's always more than one solution to problems, and you can solve most things if you experiment and combine ideas.” - Holly Y8

See more about the BBC micro:bit here: http://bbc.in/1nk84Mm


11.03.16 images keep coming!

Just about to pop!

32,588m above Nottingham:

As we flew over Buxton:

A surprisingly clear M62 and Boothwood Reservoir

10.03.16 LIFT OFF!

The project all began in September, when the idea was raised by Mr Bell. By October, we had a full team of 20 pupils, all ready for action. It took months of planning and negotiating until we were finally able to launch.

It was the brightest, clearest day we could have wished for. The Space Programme team stood huddled together on the football pitches at 10am on the 7th March, anxiously relying on the Engineering Team to make the vital final adjustments.

3...2...1… lift off! Within seconds, the balloon was out of sight.


After the initial relief and celebration, we realised we had to set off chasing the balloon!

After a tense journey following the payload’s GPS signal, we finally arrived at… well the middle of nowhere! We knew we were roughly near Peterborough, but this farmer’s field seemed pretty abandoned. 

We tracked the payload's signal using our radio equipment that we had tested on the moors a few weeks earlier.

It took an hour of scrambling through fields and hedges until we finally spotted the payload, which was snagged on a thorny bush. I cannot explain the relief and excitement that flooded through me when I saw it. It felt like all our hard work had paid off, and this once seemingly impossible project was now a big part of all our memories.

On the way back, we flicked through some of the pictures and data which had been recorded. The pictures taken were stunning, even with the camera travelling in excess of 80 meters per second in temperatures reaching -47.9°C! Over the next week or so, Mr Bell is showing us the data from the computers. We were full of exuberance and sang all the way home. We are looking forward to another launch in May, but for now, we are ‘sky high’!
Holly - Year 8

10.03.16 WILL's THOUGHTS

The project was amazing and we achieved a lot. When we started, I never thought it would be possible to send something three times higher than a jet plane. I’ve learned programming and engineering skills, including that every little bit matters when weight is such a key consideration. One of my Science teachers was talking about radioactivity absorption in the atmosphere and it made me think we could include sensors to measure that on our next launch.
William - Year 11

09.03.16 Data analysis

After LOTS of analysis of the data from the on-board computers, here are some final stats for you:

•Max. altitude: 32,588m (106,916ft / 20.25 miles). That is three times higher than Mt Everest and three times the altitude at which commercial airliners fly!
•Max. vertical velocity: 80.3m/s (179.63mph), reached 14 seconds into its decent, before the parachute deployed.
•Max. horizontal velocity: 50.84m/s (113.73mph), reached c. 19km above the jet stream, as were most of the fastest horizontal speeds recorded, oddly. We are investigating why.
•Min. temperature recorded by the external sensor outside the module: -47.9°C (at an altitude of 19,934m)
•Min. temperature inside the module: 0.6°C (the heat from the two on-board computers kept it nice and cosy in there!)

Flight path (link to Google Earth path here, if you'd lke to fly the route yourself, virtually!)

Altitude graph:

Vertical rate of ascent (yellow line) and horizontal speed (blue line). Look for the steep increase in the rate of negative ascent (descent) in the yellow line, indicating when the balloon burst. This graph was created from bursts of data that the payload was transmitting during the flight. However, from the data recorded to the on board computer, we now know that the maximum descent rate was much greater: -80.3m/s, 14 seconds after burst!

07.03.16 we did it!

On Monday 7th March, Rishworth School went to space!

We are currently putting together an article that will fully describe the day, but for now, we wanted to share this video:

We have another 32Gb of data to transfer from our module's on board computers and will be sharing them as soon as we have them.

26.02.16 - module search

On the 26th of February, we went out to test the radio signal decoding equipment that will enable us to track our space module. Mr McGarry hid the module on some moorland near school and nine of us set off with Mr Bell to find it. Overall, the outing was a huge success.
We walked about 1.5 km to reach the module from where we parked. At first, although we could hear a faint signal, it was too weak to allow us to locate it precisely. This was expected and we used a directional 'yagi' antenna to determine the direction from which the signal was being broadcast (the module's location). Initially, we started heading in the wrong direction, but we quickly realised that the signal was reflecting off a nearby hill! At about 1km out, we managed to receive a strong enough signal, without too much noise and could decode the signal to get an exact GPS fix. We eventually found it after just an hour, with the coordinates we decoded being barely a hair’s breadth (metaphorically speaking!) away from where Mr McGarry placed the module. We learned that you need to be as high as possible to detect the radio waves and to be wary of signals reflecting off hills and rocks.

module search

23.02.16 - Another week and more fantastic developments from the Space Programme team.

This week, the publicity team have gone out their way to try and promote the launch to the students of the school. We decided on organising a bake-sale to help raise funds for any future space programs the school may want to host and also use it as an opportunity to upgrade some of the cameras that will be fitted on to our payload. Students arrived in droves at the dining room to grab any homemade brownies and cake still left. During this week of fundraising we have also launched two competitions, one to send your own tie up to space and the final competition was to have a guess as to where our payload Thank you to all those who have participating in this week of fundraising as it will enable us to allow future students or younger students to do the same thing when they’re older.

The team have also designed a Logo and some polo shirts for the team to wear. On the programming side of things, the team has really stepped up their game with the payload and are in full flow with designing code ready for launch. A big effort has gone into the programming, which is the backbone of the whole project.

Speaking of the launch, the flight team, who are in charge of deciding the launch location and predicting where it will land, have announced that the launch will be taking place from Ross-On-Wye in Herefordshire. More dates will be announced as we have them. As all these things start falling into place, the more the launch is starting to materialise into a reality!

23.02.16 - As Launch Day is near upon is, here is your update on the Space Programme team's progress:

After a successful week of fundraising in the school dining hall, the team managed to raise funds to help us purchase an extra camera which will be fitted to our payload, this will mean that we will have HD video recorded throughout the flight!
The flight team have spent a lot of time and hard work into finalising the details of the actual launch date, we hope to be leaving for Herefordshire next Monday, where students will be able to see all their hard work come to fruition. The flight team have also had to take into account predicted winds and any other weather issues that may face us.
After meticulous planning and long discussions the project is really starting to come together. The engineering team has added a few final touches to the payload to make sure it is balanced correctly and now the only thing that could possibly stand in our way of achieving our goal is Mother Nature herself. We hope that the winds are on our side on a day which will surely go down in Rishworth School history: the day Rishworth went to space!

04.02.16- Holly's report

Rishworth School is about to take ‘one small step’ on an amazing mission into Space.
The idea of this project is to send a computer up to Space [well, ‘near-Space’, as Mr Bell our teacher keeps reminding us!] under a weather balloon, gathering data, storing video and broadcasting live images back to Earth. This mission is to help children to become more aware of Space and science, and to get pupils to join in with things they never usually would.

It all started four months ago when we heard about the idea online, and decided Rishworth School could have a go at it. From this first thought came over 40 entries from students to join the Space Programme team, soon narrowed down to 20 though their ability to be creative with ideas and show what skills they could contribute to the project. Mr Bell and Mr McGarry, the team leaders, then put together a flight team, publicity team, engineering team and a documentary team. These teams are all combining new skills to make the project a success.

Only a few months into the programme, we have already made the module and transmission equipment, organised the flight paths and have a few launch date ‘windows’ approved.
Heathfield School pupils are also involved by running a competition to design a ‘pilot’ which will be sent up into space.
We are hoping this project is successful and know we will get some interesting information sent back from Space about altitude, pressure, direction, humidity, temperature and GPS. Fingers crossed it doesn’t land in the sea!
We are already planning for next year’s project and so far we have raised hundreds of pounds by running bake sales and competitions that the whole school can get involved with.
Our launch will hopefully take place in March at Cambridge University and the whole team will be going down to Churchill College for the day, working along side PhD students and hopefully learning lots of new things.
We are all extremely excited for the future and cannot wait to go down to Cambridge! You can also join in with all the excitement by following our Rishworth School Twitter and Facebook pages!
Watch this Space!

05.01.16 - fresh from the christmas break we're hard at work with our space programme.

Since we last updated you, the project has taken off (pardon the pun)!  Let me break it down for you:

The engineering team have built our payload by adding a tracker board (it contains a GPS receiver to track its location, which it then transmits via radio back to Earth) to a Raspberry Pi computer - no, you can't eat it!  It's actually the smallest computer in this corner of the universe.  We have also put a Sense Hat board on top, which has all sorts of sensors so we can measure temperature, pressure, humididy, direction etc.  Finally, a camera will allow us to take some amazing photos from Near Space (at approx 100,000ft / 30km)!

The team are now installing software, developing a piece of code and building the module's radio transmission antenna.

We will also be asking YOU, the reader, to help name the module, so make sure you follow the Rishworth School Twitter @RishworthS as we will be tweeting a poll in which you can vote between two names!

03.12.15 - programme launched!

Now you may be wondering what's going on here, but bear with me, Rishworth is going into Space....yes, Space!  No, we're not sending a teacher off to Mars, but we are launching our own piece of equipment into Space, to record some data and take some pictures!  Still with me?  Good.  After a 1 month selection process, 4 groups have been decided: an engineering team, flight team, documentary team and a publicity team.  As a representative of the publicity team it will be my upmost pleasure to keep you informed and updated on a weekly basis!  Engineering have the task of configuring a piece of software which will be launched into the atmosphere.  The flight team have been assigned the challenge of finding a suitable place to launch the weather balloon with the device inside and also to make sure when it comes back down, it doesn't end up in the North Sea!  Finally the documentary team, headed by the talented Nick, will be working with us to show parents and students alike the progress of the entire group, via pictures and videos.  Nick has recently directed and produced some videos for the Rishworth School Vimeo page;  Space Programme videos will feature on here soon too.

This is only the beginning, next week we will be unveiling our new badge and social media pages to keep you updated.

Thank you, from all the publicity team!

Holly, Ruth, Maryam, Ed and Lucy




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