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Rocky Mountain

Rocky Mountain NDIA and

The Edge of Space


Rocky Mountain NDIA’s Edge of Space program is designed to excite the imaginations of area elementary and secondary school students. Through it, we encourage students to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education by directly engaging them in missions to space at a young age.

Working closely with school administrators and educators, Edge of Space helps students create their own experiments to be launched into space via weather balloon. Each experiment must fit into a plastic capsule such as found in gumball machines. EOS volunteers then package these capsules into payloads and attach them to the launch string, along with transponders, cameras and other electronic equipment.

Upon inflation, the weather balloon lifts the string into the stratosphere where it eventually bursts under the increased pressure inside the balloon compared to the near zero atmospheric pressure in the stratosphere, sending the payload parachuting back to Earth. The payload is then recovered, and the capsules shipped back to the students for their analysis.

Students are involved in every aspect of the mission, creating the experiments, documenting their process, launching/tracking/recovering the payload and analyzing the results.

Colonel Norm Black (ret) has spearheaded the Edge of Space program since its inception. After an illustrious 28-year Air Force career which culminated in being appointed Chief of Space Exploitation and Force Enhancement at US Space Command, Col Black retired from the Air Force in 2001. After a second career in the private defense community, he initiated the first Edge of Space student missions in 2013.

Eventually the program grew to a point where more hands were needed. Col Black was referred to the Edge of Space Sciences (EOSS), a Denver, Colorado-based non-profit organization founded in 1990 for the purpose of “Promoting science and education through high-altitude balloons and amateur radio.” EOSS conducts high-altitude balloon experiments in collaboration with universities, colleges, high schools, and middle schools, engaging the next generation of scientists and engineers. They provide FAA coordination, handle launch logistics, track payloads during flight, and ensure safe recovery. EOSS was a perfect fit for Col Black’s program, and a partnership was struck.

Rocky Mountain Chapter NDIA came on board in February of 2016 when Col Black was invited to bring the Edge of Space program under the umbrella of NDIA-RMC’s Workforce Development Committee. With NDIA-RMC’s aid, more than 9,300 students from 10 states have launched 3,100 experiments into the Edge of Space.

If you would like to support Col Black and Rocky Mountain NDIA’s Edge of Space’s STEM education efforts, either as a volunteer or donor, click below.

Gallery: Edge of Space
Rocky Mountain

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