Well, Kentucky Space balloon-1 was a success on all levels. For the first time in Kentucky, a scientific payload soared into the stratosphere, reaching a height of almost 90,000 feet before plunging back to the earth.
Everything went real smooth: the scientific data was collected and we could watch the ascent the whole way up until the black sky could be seen against the earth's curvature. Equally amazing, the payload was recovered about three hours after the mission began, having traveled about 80 miles from the launch site.
For me, invited as an observer, the most wonderful moment was not the launch, or the live images, but the sight of students from different Kentucky universities working together on the countdown check while just a few feet away, kids just six or seven years old were sitting on the floor carefully assembling the pong-sats, or pearl-sats. These tiny "satellites," which are made from ping-pong balls, are stuffed with all sorts of fun things, such as marshmallows, to demonstrate what happens when the payload reaches the low-density of the stratosphere.
Two levels of students engaged in two levels of education, genuine excitement from those attending the launch, great help from Kentucky's Homeland Security and it was a unique demonstration on the power of an event like this to inspire.
I can't wait to get the results from the scientific payloads, and see what we can do next.
But it's how they are being taught that might be of even greater importance, according to a Space Review essay, "Student Satellites: Encouraging Trend or Sign of Panic?"