School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

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Goodbye planet earth: APL in space

Last week MArch stage 6 student Tom Lobb launched a successful mission high into the stratosphere as part of his thesis project. An unmanned helium balloon was launched from Blackley, West Yorkshire, equipped with a specially sealed camera and GPS device. It reached an altitude of over 26km (three times the height of a passenger jet) and travelled 90km east. It was tracked to a controlled landing east of Malton, on a small farm, three and a half hours after launch. 

The balloon captured the journey in high definition video and recorded flight data which is now being analysed at mission control in atelier 2. Through an unintended collision with a tree during take-off, the balloon picked up a branch which the video shows being flung into the stratosphere as the balloon pops.

The mission was supported by the MArch Thesis Travel fund, which makes three awards each year to allow stage 6 students to undertake trips related to their thesis. Tom’s project in the Landscapes of Human Endeavour studio, led by Matt Ozga-Lawn and James Craig, is inspired by the Apollo 11 spaceflight to the moon and unmanned voyager missions. It explores the prospect of architecture in space and questions our reasons for leaving the planet.

Look out for Tom’s project at the end of year exhibition. A full report on the mission will appear in this summer’s yearbook.


published on: 1 May 2015