It’s good news for the Grade 11 Physics class at West Ferris Secondary School.

The students and their teacher Kelly Shulman have the payload back that they launched with a weather balloon last week on Monday.

The payload was found by student Jared Kelso and his dad on Saturday.

After the balloon exploded and a parachute dropped the payload back to Earth, it landed in a very dense bush area near Kiosk east of North Bay.

More of the Earth as captured by the payload

Two attempts by staff to retrieve the balloon failed.

Shulman says unknown to the school the Kelsos went to the area and hunted down the payload.

Several hours of searching gave no indication that the payload was anywhere near despite the pair having the GPS coordinates.

“They were about ready to give up when Jared began hearing the sound beacon and told his dad,” Shulman said.

“It was very quiet and they started walking toward it and it got louder and louder.”

The view from the stratosphere

Shulman says the payload was tied up in branches about two feet off the ground in very dense bush.

When earlier attempts to locate it failed, Shulman had hoped passing pilots might be able to spot it, but considering where the Kelsos found it, the payload would be impossible to see from a plane.

“I was just speechless and I couldn’t believe it, Shulman told Moose News when Kelso walked into class with the payload.

Way above Earth

Other than a lost antenna, there was no damage to the payload and all the equipment inside was intact.

Shulman says recovering the payload was important because although the class was able to record data as the balloon rose into the sky, what the students needed to get back was the SD card which contains images and video of the actual ascent and descent.

The students have now seen that video and Shulman says they were amazed.

Next up is putting together a complete video about four-and-a-half minutes in length that details the construction of the payload, the weather balloon launch and final retrieval.

The payload in near space

As for future balloon launches, Shulman says there will be another one with a different class.

She’s shooting for a longer launch window beginning with May 1st.

The goal for the next payload is to have it land south of North Bay where the land is flatter and the bush isn’t as dense.