Students to Launch High-Tech Balloon to Edge of Space

TAMPA, Fla. (Jan. 10, 2009) – University of South Florida students, researchers, and local meteorologists will launch a high-altitude balloon on a voyage to the edge of space to capture a rare view of Florida on Saturday, Jan. 17.


The 9:45 a.m. launch will send the X3 EOS (Earth Observation System) – a high-tech balloon outfitted with instrumentation, high-resolution cameras and GPS tracking gear – into the upper atmosphere where it will photograph Florida from up to 100,000 feet. The device is designed so that if it splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean or makes land, locating instruments can allow it to be retrieved.


The launch of the high-tech research balloon will be followed by a presentation on images and data gathered from recent successful launch of its predecessor, the X2 Obara, which generated more than 1,000 images of Florida from the edge of the atmosphere. The project is the brainchild of USF’s X-Labs, a diverse group of Engineering students working to develop space technology at USF. The event is co-sponsored by the West Central Florida Chapter of the American Meteorological Society.


Media interested in covering the launch can gather at the USF Chemistry Building at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 17 for pre-launch activities. Enter in the main campus at Fowler Avenue and follow LeRoy Collins Boulevard north to the traffic circle. Parking and the launch site will be located just west of the circle.


For more information on X-Labs and to view image from previous launches, visit the group’s website at


The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded more than $360 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2007/2008. The University offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The University has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 46,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.


– USF –


STORY SOURCES:              Jennifer Collins

                                           Assistant Professor, Department of Geography

                                           (813) 974-4242


                                            Joe Register

                                            President, X-Labs

                                            (813) 205-6462