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College of Charleston students launch weather balloons to livestream eclipse

CofC students launch weather balloons to livestream eclipse. (Source: Live 5 News) CofC students launch weather balloons to livestream eclipse. (Source: Live 5 News)
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

It was all hands on deck for students from the College of Charleston on Monday. 

“Today we are going to be launching a high-altitude balloon with a video camera, a still camera and a virtual reality camera from the bow of the Chinook,” said Cassandra Runyon, an associate professor at the College of Charleston.

The launch happened 6 to 7 miles off the coast of Charleston.

It’s a mission that’s been in the making for months.

“The people at home will be able to ride up with our balloon and experience it like they were there,” said Robert Moody, a senior at the College of Charleston.

For Moody, his experience today was a dream come true.  

“It’s been just incredible to me,” said Moody. “Like, NASA, I’ve always thought they were the coolest people ever.”

And on Monday, he was their partner.

The team was one of 50 across the country contributing to a video live stream of the eclipse.

“The point of this is just to get a lot of eyes on the eclipse,” said Moody. “This is going to be the largest group project on the eclipse ever.”

The team launched two balloons from their boat.

Unfortunately, the first they released by accident.

The second one lost its equipment, including the tracking beacon.

The students met similar challenges preparing for the project.

“It’s just been really difficult to keep everything working at 100%,” said Moody.

The advisers working on the project said regardless of the outcome, they’re proud of what the students learned and accomplished.

“Our students have gone back and redesigned some of the housing, some of the software actually that’s involved,” said Runyon.

That’s experience Moody said has inspired his path for the future.

“I really just had a blast, so I’m kind of looking into this now,” said Moody.

The team says they’ll do their best to recover the balloons.

Several other groups in the Charleston area launched balloons for the same project.

They know of one that did successfully rise to over 100,000 feet.

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