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Students from near and far descend on UHart for special balloon project

Taking part in the “Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project” with NASA.

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — Students from seven different universities all came to the University of Hartford campus to test launch their weather balloons. The students, from as close as the University of Hartford, the University of Bridgeport, and as far away as Penn State University are all part of what is known as the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project. 

The project which is sponsored in part by NASA is asking colleges and, some high school teams, to gather data for two upcoming eclipses – one in October and one in April of 2024.

“The Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Program is a NASA-sponsored project run with Montana State University. It coordinates with about 55 teams from around the country to all launch these balloons with similar payloads throughout the entire length of the eclipse to gather weather data and other scientific and engineering data," Paul Slabloch, a team lead, and the aerospace engineering program director at the University of Hartford said.

Just after a test launch by the baseball field on the University of Hartford Campus, rising senior and aerospace engineering major Andrew Krebsbach said, “You can read all about this stuff all you want but nothing beats putting your hand on the project yourself and getting real experience.” The test balloon launch was a success and able to gather data during its one-hour-plus journey 23 thousand feet above Connecticut. Ultimately, the team of students tracked their test balloon down in some woods in Coventry.

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Huy Huong, a rising junior at the University of Bridgeport who is studying computer science said, “The coolest part of this is just the experience of learning all of it.”

The University of Hartford students expect to launch their weather balloon for real when they travel to New Mexico for the next major eclipse in October.

Jimmy Altman is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at jaltman@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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