The First Recruitment Company in Space.
It was back in the summer of 2013 that Barry Fraser, a mild-mannered tradesman from Inverness, approached Orion HQ in the hope of securing support for his space mission. Barry, together with his eldest son Cameron (11) had embarked upon a project to send an object into space and furthermore, had found a way to do so.
A weather balloon was the vessel of choice; a relatively simple, low cost concept - or so you might think. Months of meticulous planning, design and prototyping were to follow. From the balloon membrane to the construction of the ‘payload’ box itself, every minute detail was carefully researched and measured with the precision of an experienced joiner and the consideration of a devoted father.
Sponsored by Orion Group, the payload housed all of the projects technology. Numerous measurement devices and software, two global positioning systems, two digital stills cameras and two high-resolution video cameras. The payload would be attached (via a 17m rope) to a parachute, and that to a 3meter diameter balloon. The apparatus would travel to an altitude of 100,000ft above the earth in 108 minutes. At this height the helium filled balloon, having expanded to over 10 meters in diameter, would explode and the payload would return to earth on a parachute.
When the craft was ready and launch permission had been granted from the Civil Aviation Authority, a waiting game ensued for the right weather conditions at both ground level and at high altitude. Eventually, one serine April morning, the day came for Barry and his son to launch the balloon from Blackwood farm in the Westhill area of Inverness.
On-board cameras capture breath-taking video footage and imagery as the craft ascends high into the sky, reaching well into the earth’s stratosphere, before plummeting 30,000meters to earth. Thanks to the GPS trackers, the payload was successfully located much later that day amongst dense forest to the west of Brora and the Orion-backed space mission could officially be classed ‘a success’.
Now grounded, the custom-built payload box and the technology within it will be donated by Orion Group to the Science department at Charleston Academy, Cameron’s High School.