Many GCSE students are happy to get by with the “bear necessities” – but not Morley lad Andrew Huff!
Andrew was on cloud nine after his carefully planned project to launch a teddy bear into space passed off without a hitch during the summer holidays.
Andrew, 16, now in the lower sixth at The Grammar School at Leeds, took his mind off his impending GCSE results by devising a scheme to collect locational data and weather information at high altitude, using a computer and a weather balloon.
Once the Civil Aviation Authority had issued clearance and the weather was fair, the launch took place at Bolton Abbey. The balloon was carrying a payload of two teddy bears, one Raspberry Pi computer for logging altitude, temperature and GPS position, two cameras, GPS trackers and parachutes.
Aspiring aeronautical engineer Andrew said: “I’ve always been interested in flight and I was inspired by Felix Baumgartner’s high altitude sky dive – my balloon got within 13km of the altitude he jumped from.”
The balloon landed near Clitheroe after a flight of over an hour and a half, having reached an altitude of 26.7km and a top speed of 109mph. The lowest temperature recorded was minus 50 degrees Celsius.
Having collected the data, Andrew then had to teach himself programming language to interpret it.
Andrew added: “It was a great learning experience, from what went right and what could have gone better! I’ve had to master new technical and programming skills, as well as learning about project management, and I’m grateful to everyone who helped me.”
Back at “mission control”, the school’s head of ICT and computing Tim Street, who advised Andrew on the programming, said: “GSAL’s first unmanned space mission was a tremendous success. Andrew did a brilliant job of building the payload and organising the whole launch, which took a huge amount of work.”
With 10 GCSEs, nine at A-star, Andrew is now studying five AS-levels and has been awarded a prestigious Arkwright Engineering Scholarship which will help him to his future in engineering and technical design.