[HIT Forum] High schooler shares his space dream

Choi Se-yeong, a student at Gimhae Bunsung High School, delivered congratulatory remarks for The Korea Herald’s Humanity in Tech Forum as a representative of future scientists moving forward for the nation’s space industry.

“I would like to first express my heartfelt gratitude for giving such an exceptional opportunity to speak at this huge forum,” said Choi at The Shilla Seoul on Wednesday.

As part of an experiment last month, students at Aircraft -- an aerospace engineering club at Gimhae Bunsung High School in South Gyeongsang Province -- successfully launched a helium balloon with a camera into the sky.

“The basic idea was to capture the Earth’s marvelous landscapes in the sky and review the concepts about atmosphere that we learned in Earth Science class,” explained Choi, the key member of Aircraft.

According to Choi, the project actually started last year. The launch last year was also successful, but the students failed to carry out the final stage of recovering the balloon.

“We did an in-depth analysis of factors that led to the last trial’s failure, which guaranteed this year’s success,” Choi noted.

Last year, they used a smartphone as a balloon tracker as well as a camera, which could not endure the stratosphere's cold temperatures of up to minus 70 degrees Celsius. This year, they decided to affix a respective GPS tracker and camera to the balloon, while keeping them warm.

Choi recalled his vivid memory of the launch by showing a recorded video from the camera that was on the floating helium balloon. During its nearly 1 1/2 hour flight, the balloon captured a clear image of the Korean Peninsula and even Tsushima Island of Japan over the clouds while reaching the stratosphere.

“The balloon is expected to climb to 33 kilometers in altitude,” Choi said. After the balloon safely survived its parachute landing, the students recovered it.

“Thankfully, our project was reported in many news outlets and received tremendous attention,” he said.

The 18-year old student is now working on a new small rocket project. “As we take steps toward university, our ultimate goal and dream is to build reusable launch vehicles with Korea’s own technology,” Choi announced.

Choi stressed the need for increased interest in the nation’s space industry. “Your support will allow young students like me to take on new challenges more eagerly,” he said.

“While achieving my dream, I will always remember this honorable moment with Sasha Sagan and Dr. Yi Soyeon,” he said, referring to the forum’s main speakers.

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