High-Altitude Balloon Challenge

Highlight of the High-Altitude Balloon Mission on 8/21/21


Civil Air Patrol squadron cadets and adults have been invited to develop a project for the "CAP High-Altitude Balloon Challenge” which will launch on a mission to the edge of space, 100,000 ft above Earth. Each participating squadron will compete in the challenge to design a mission patch and science or engineering project(s) in SHARE Capsules, which will be flown in Indiana on a high-altitude balloon with LIVE tracking and an online event in August 2021. Each squadron will need to complete all phases of the challenge to be eligible for top honors at the end of the challenge. StratoStar will provide the Student High-Altitude Research Experience (SHARE) kit, which will house each squadron's experiment(s) and be used to ship the projects to the launch site. Curriculum and support to the AEOs to guide each squadron through this project. 

What does a StratoStar SHARE Mission look like?

What is the CAP Challenge Timeline

Phase 1 - Develop SHARE Projects

  • ​May 11th:      SquadronRegistration Begins 
  • ​May 18th:     Squadron Deadline for registration 
  • May 19th:     Release Digital SHARE Materials 
  • May 21st:     AEO Orientation Web Meeting 
  • May 27th:     Opening Ceremony Event (online)  
  • Aug 11th:     Projects shipped back to StratoStar 

Phase 2 - Fly SHARE Projects

  • ​Aug 21st:     Primary Launch Date 
  • Aug 23rd:     Ship SHARE Projects to Squadrons
  • Aug 28th:     Backup - Launch Date
  • Aug 30th:     Backup - Ship SHARE Projects to Squadrons

Phase 3 - Fly SHARE Projects

  • ​Sept 1st:    Receive SHARE Projects in the Mail
  • Sept 24th:    Final Reports Due 
  • Oct 6th:         Awards Ceremony Event (online)

What experiments can we fly in the SHARE Capsules?

Innovation and creativity are encouraged as participants can develop their unique experiments or look at what has been done on past missions and improve upon previous experiments using household or widely available materials. 

Each squadron has the same rules and physical constraints to innovate within for their SHARE Capsule Experiment:
      - 40g weight limit (with capsule included)
      - Must fit within provided 50ml capsule (scale drawing link)
      - No Liquids
      - No food which requires refrigeration
      - No live vertebrates or invertebrates
      - No Radioactive Materials
      - No Explosive Materials

       - This is a collection of SHARE projects designed and built by               students and analyzed after the mission to create a final report           using a StratoStar Template.

      - This guide will help AEOs and students funnel their ideas down          to experiments that will work for the SHARE capsules.

What are the deliverables for the Challenge? 

The following items will need to be completed and submitted during the course of the CAP Challenge to be eligible for the Col Kittinger Cup and award consideration:

SHARE Capsules Shipped to StratoStar -- Shipped via USPS  on or before August 11th, 2021
     - The SHARE Kit (control & flight capsules with box) needs to be shipped to StratoStar, leaving a few days for any delays in the mail system. 

Mission Patch(es) -- Due via Electronic Submission August 11th, 2021
     - Each squadron may submit 1 x PNG file of digital mission patch and/or 1 x hand-drawn mission patch (digitally scanned as PNG file)

Flight Manifest -- Shipped with SHARE Kit by August 11th, 2021
      - Submit a comprehensive list of all the items/materials contained in the SHARE Capsule. 

Science Project Report - Due via Electronic Submission August 11th, 2021 
      - For each project which is flown (can have multiple projects per capsule) deliver a Science Project Report, which lists the hypothesis for the          project and shares more details about the project with the squadron Challenge team. 

Pre-Flight Science Project Video -- Due via Electronic Submission August 11th, 2021
      - This cadet-produced video is short (2 min minimum and 3 min max) and will highlight the project being flown on the mission. 

Science Project Documentary and Results Video – Due via Electronic Submission September 24th, 2021 
      - This cadet-produced video should be short  (4 min minimum and 5 min max),  and tell the entire story of the science project, including the            results of the experiment and interviews with the cadets. This should also include the impact of learning about Col Joe Kittinger, and how,            if the winner, the $5,000 award grant would be used in the squadron.

ONE Slide Final Report – Due via Electronic Submission September 24th, 2021 
       - This is one google slide for cadets to share the results and story of their experiment. (Found in the Challenge  Digital Education Materials)

How to submit your squadron's post-flight work for the CAP Challenge?

Here is the link and video tutorial on how to submit everything else. 

The Post-Flight work is ALL submitted at the same time online with the link: 

This is a video tutorial on how to submit your Post-Flight work: 

Reminder:  1) Your Post-Flight Science video needs to be uploaded to YouTube and Vimeo and the public link is submitted (not the video file)

Reminder: 2) Your ONE Slide Reports need to be added to one "presentation" (file) with all the reports from your squadron. This one file containing ALL your ONE Slide Reports will be submitted for review. 

How do we do work with our squadron for the Challenge?

Squadrons will receive StratoStar SHARE Digital Materials (lessons and activities). AEOs will guide the youth and adults through designing and building a SHARE experiment and analyzing the data after the flight to create a final report for the challenge.

The StratoStar SHARE Digital Materials contain 10 x lessons / activities for participants (2-15 hrs Instructional Time ).  AEOs can choose which lessons or activities to implement. There is a "critical path" that involves 2-3 hrs instructional / work time. 

What are the competition categories for the CAP Challenge?

After the mission, youth and adults will analyze mission data, SHARE experiment results and create final reports to be submitted at the squadron level. The AEO will select the top two projects/reports and mission patches to be submitted for the national competition. 

A team of "industry experts" selected by CAP Headquarters will review the work and award the following categories on a live national web event. (More details about the competition will be available after registration). 

  • Most Scientific SHARE Projects / Final Reports
  • ​Most Creative SHARE Projects / Final Reports
  • ​Best Hand Drawn Mission Patches
  • ​Best Digitally Drawn Mission Patches
  • ​Best Project Video Documentary 

High-Altitude Challenge Ambassador
 Col. Joe Kittinger "First Man in Space"

Col. Joe Kittinger started his Air Force career as a test pilot.  When the space age started in 1940's & 50's there was not much known about the effects radiation from outer-space might have on human-beings beyond the protection of our atmosphere.  Col Joe Kittinger volunteered for Col John Stapp projects at Aero Medial Laboratory at Wright Field which which turned out to be the worlds first manned space program and the predecessor of NASA's Project Mercury. 

Project Manhigh
The goal of the project was to study the effects of space radiation (cosmic rays) which originate from deep space on human beings above the protection of the Eath's atmosphere.  On June 2, 1957 Col. Joe Kittinger was launched on a high-altitude balloon in a capsule with a prototype space suit to 96,800 ft above earth and became the first man in space. There were some technical difficulties and Col. Kittinger used his problem solving skills to safely make it back to Earth and we gained a wealth of knowlege on they systems and effects of space on humans. 

Project Excelsior
In 1959 Col. Kittinger continued his work with high-altitude balloons on Project Excelsior where his team designed and test a parachute system allowing for a safe and controlled ejection at high-altitudes.   As aviation and human space flight progressed an emergency escape system was needed to bring aircrews safely to the ground in the event of an emergency.  During Project Excelsior Col. Kittinger conducted three missions where he ascended on an open gondola high-altitude balloon to the edge of space and jumped out at the edge of space with a prototype high-altitude parachute system.  In one of the jumps Col. Kittinger lost consciousness and the parachute system he was testing automatically deployed and saved his life.  During the course of the project Col. Kittinger broke the world record for highest parachute jump and highest speed of a human in the atmosphere which held for 52 years until Felix Baumgartner broke both records on Red Bull's Project Statos. 


Col. Joe Kittinger Space Jump

Project Team 
CAP High-Altitude Balloon Challenge

 1st Lt. Bob Roberts 
Director Aerospace Education
CAP South Carolina Wing

Susan Mallett
Education Outreach 
CAP National HQ

Jason Krueger
President / Founder  StratoStar

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the CAP High-Altitude Balloon Challenge happen again in the future?
The response from the squadrons and CAP leadership has all been very positive. We don’t have any definite plans for another challenge currently, but we desire to continue. The best thing you can do is deliver the best SHARE projects from your squadron and complete all the challenge phases! 
How can our squadron youth and adults participate in the mission on launch day? 
On the day of launch, StratoStar and a CAP team will provide live coverage of the launch event and updates throughout the mission of the high-altitude balloon flight and recovery operation.  Anyone with a browser will be able to track the StratoStar high-altitude balloon LIVE via the internet to see where and how high it is flying. You will also be able to see real-time atmospheric sensor information such as Temperature, Pressure, Humidity, Speed, and more online. 

How a StratoStar Mission Works

What grade levels and standards could be covered?

NGSS Science & Engineering Practices

  • Asking questions and defining problems
  • Developing and using models
  • Planning and carrying out investigations
  • ​Analyzing and interpreting data
  • ​Using mathematics and computational thinking
  • ​Constructing explanations and designing solutions
  • ​Engaging in argument from evidence
  • ​Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Subjects / Grade Level

  • K-16 Integration 
  • Math : Interpreting and graphing data
  • Science: Chemistry, Physics, Earth Science and Biology 
  • Writing : Documenting process and press releases 
  • Art: Mission patch, video / photo editing and graphic design. 
  • ​STEM : Creating circuits and programing Arduino's 
  • ​Much more!!!

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