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The Civil Air Patrol Fosters STEM With CubeSat Balloon Launch

The Civil Air Patrol’s Fort McHenry Composite Squadron (MER-MD-140) launch of an Orbit Logic CubeSat on Oct. 20, achieved scientific goals and also encouraged an interest science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The launch was the second mission for the Civil Air Patrol, High Altitude Stratospheric Experiment (CHASE) and replicated the success of the first launch, which took pictures of the stratosphere. This CHASE mission carried additional sensors. Another goal was for the balloon-launched CubeSat to exceed 100,000 feet in altitude, compared to the first launch’s 95,000 feet. While the technical goals served as something to aim for, the primary mission was to provide Civil Air Patrol cadets with a lasting STEM experience.

“Sending electronics on a weather balloon to take pictures of the stratosphere is a fun way to get kids excited about STEM activities.”

The second CHASE mission took place as part of the Civil Air Patrol’s Maryland Wing Rocketry Day, where Civil Air Patrol cadets from different squadrons launched model rockets. “Sending electronics on a weather balloon to take pictures of the stratosphere is a fun way to get kids excited about STEM activities,” said Capt. Josh Neel, the Fort McHenry Composite Squadron’s aerospace education officer. Neel, who also serves as a principal software engineer at CHASE industry partner Orbit Logic, is proud of his company’s participation in this STEM experience. “It’s great for this mission to have the support of a company like Orbit Logic, that has experience in aerospace,” said Neel.

Orbit Logic CubeSat

The Orbit Logic CubeSat that will be launched by the Civil Air Patrol’s Fort McHenry Composite Squadron as part of a Civil Air Patrol, High Altitude Stratospheric Experiment (CHASE). Orbit Logic photo

The first CHASE launch took place on Jan. 5, 2012 and provided Civil Air Patrol members with a rich STEM experience. “This project proved to have many great opportunities for aerospace education,” said Neel, after the successful first mission. “Leading up to launch, the squadron learned about the stratosphere, the global positioning system, microcontrollers, amateur radio, buoyancy and lift using helium and several other very interesting topics,” Neel added.  The launch on Sunday replicated that and provided an invaluable STEM experience for cadets.

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Steven Hoarn is the Editor/Photo Editor for Defense Media Network. He is a graduate of...