HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. –Hopkinsville Community College was selected to participate in NASA's BalloonSat Venture for Community Colleges.

An HCC team of 3 faculty members and eight students attended the BalloonSat Workshop in Huntsville, Ala., Jan. 29 through Feb. 1.

According to NASA, the objective of the venture is to involve community college students in the development of flight hardware with balloon satellites. NASA's goal is to increase the participation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics majors in engineering and science projects as well as increase the number of community college students who complete their associate degree and then transfer to a college or university and major in a STEM discipline.

"The BalloonSat Training Workshop was an amazing opportunity for our students to be able to launch a balloon satellite and payload into near space," said Sherry McCormack, HCC assistant professor of mathematics. "Being able to track the balloon's progress across two states and to be able to recover the payload within feet of where it landed was incredible. The thrill of the chase will be memories that will last a lifetime."

The four-day workshop covered the basics of scientific ballooning. The team's launch package consisted of a high-altitude weather balloon, parachute and payload. Upon reaching an altitude of about 100,000 feet, the balloon burst and the payload delivered back to the ground by the parachute near Summerville, Ga. The student team conducted the post-flight data analysis serving as an introduction for more detailed discussions of motion, energy, atmospheric structure and dynamics. At the end of the workshop, each team was given a parachute, a tracking payload set and the recovered sensor package.


  • Scott Bain, assistant professor of physics
  • James Hunter, professor of mathematics
  • Sherry McCormack, assistant professor of mathematics


  • Erica Palowitch of Cadiz
  • Naomi Ray of Clarksville
  • Camilla McCormack of Hopkinsville
  • Kelly Kemp of Russellville
  • Rickey Cupp of Oak Grove
  • Nathan Phelps of Cadiz
  • Gregory Smith of Hopkinsville
  • Brandon Fuston of Hopkinsville
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