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An extracurricular Bishop Union High School science club has officially launched a stratospheric commercial company that literally allows clients to test and publicize their products from the edge of Earthâ€™s atmosphere.
For a fee, Earth to Sky Calculus LLC will launch products and photos to the edge of Earthâ€™s stratosphere and return video of the flight and the product to the client. The student-run company also does stress testing of satellite components and other space-bound equipment. Earth to Sky also remains research driven, collecting useful data such as its Jan. 8 photo shoot of scant snowpacks, revealing the effects of the current drought on the Eastern Sierra.
On the lighter side, people can send up photos and greetings for personal occasions. Last year, the group was featured in â€śRipleyâ€™s Believe it or Not?â€ť for its 2012 launch of a rubber chicken to the edge of outer space.
Science club Earth to Sky, which started in 2010 under the leadership of Dr. Tony Phillips, became Earth to Sky Calculus LLC in 2013. While Phillips serves as the studentsâ€™ mentor in balloon launching and entrepreneurial basics, â€śthe students own 93 percent of the stock in the company and they are in complete charge,â€ť Phillips said.
All officers and shareholders are BUHS and college students: Chief Executive Officer Amelia Koske-Phillips; Chief of Staff Aaron Lamb, Vice President of Research Carson Reid, Vice President of Business Administration Olivia Grah and Payload Recovery SpecialistÂ Michael White. Shareholders include White, Sam Johnson, Rachel Molina, Bronwyn Stephenson, Ginger Perez and Justin Gilpin. BUHS students who work with the business and may become shareholders include Zoe Anderson, Joey Harvey, Duncan Reid, Makayla McDevitt and Sam and Owen Ohmandi, Phillips added.
The name Earth to Sky was suggested by Koske-Phillips, a fan of the Bishop sports shoe and apparel store, Sage to Summit, Phillips said of his daughter.Â â€śStratospheric advertising was also Ameliaâ€™s idea.Â She suggested flying a running shoe to the edge of space.â€ť Sage to Summit owner Karen Schwartz liked the idea, â€śthus, Sage to Summit became our first client.â€ť
â€śWithout Amelia, we wouldnâ€™t have much of what we have today,â€ť Lamb added.
Other Earth to Sky clientele has included Boy Scouts of America, Neurodrink, Cuperella, a gourmet bakery in Germany, NASA and Celestron Telescopes.
It costs $750 to send a shoe, telescope or other product to the edge of space, Phillips said.Â â€śFor that cost, the customer receives video footage of the entire flight as well as the flown object â€¦
after its journey to the top of Earthâ€™s atmosphere.â€ť
Thereâ€™s also the Edge of SpaceÂ Greeting Card service.Â For $49.95, a person can celestially celebrate a personal event such as birthday or anniversary. â€śSend us your picture.Â We will put it on a digital tablet and fly your picture more than 100,000 feet above Earthâ€™s surface,â€ť Phillips explained.
Profits from the business are re-invested in the company and used to fund student research, Phillips added.
Aside from serving research and clients, Earth to Sky members said they are personally edified.
Koske-Phillips said starting the business has been extremely difficult yet â€śone of the most rewarding experiences â€¦ Iâ€™ve learned so much about real world applications, and itâ€™s helped shape my career. I hope to continue building the company using what I learn in business school.â€ť
Lamb described the rewards of his involvement in the business. As chief of staff, his duties â€śrevolve around the recruitment, training and retention of Earth to Sky personnel as well as serving as lead legal researcher.â€ť He handles the company Facebook page, Instagram and upcoming website and â€śserves as the public liaison, creating the Earth to Sky public calendar, planning public speaking events andÂ ensuring that all students expected at an event arrive prepared in a timely manner.â€ť Lamb said these duties form excellent, real world leadership skills.
Lamb said heâ€™s benefited from the experience of making personal contributions such as â€śbringing Earth to Sky in line with FAA regulations, allowing for larger payloads to be sent to the stratosphere, as well as ensuring the safety of pilots in the Eastern Sierra.â€ť His initiatives have resulted in Earth to Sky becoming the first ballooning group to joinÂ a chamber of commerce when it recently joined Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce. â€śIn the near future, I will schedule upcoming speaking events at the Lions, Sunrise Rotary and Bishop Noon Rotary meetings.â€ť
In addition to remaining active in Earth to Sky, student staff members are looking forward to continuing their academic careers this year.
Several anticipate starting their freshman college year this fall. White plans to study engineering at University of California, Berkeley; Johnson, electrical engineering at Stanford University; Gilpin, chemical engineering at UC San Diego; Stephenson, psychology at UC Santa Barbara; Koske-Phillips, business atÂ Babson College in Massachusetts; and Lamb, marine transportation at California Maritime Academy. â€śI look forward to serving my country and using the skills from Earth to Sky to be a leader in our countryâ€™s economy and Navy,â€ť he said.
Molina just completed her first year at UC Santa Cruz, â€śwhere she was a student mission controller for NASAâ€™s BARREL project.Â BARREL flew balloons over Antarctic to study space weather,â€ť Phillip said.
Staying on at BUHS for 2014-15, Reid will be Earth to Skyâ€™s next CEO; Anderson, will be chief of staff; and Grah will continue as a vice president.
The company also has a few upcoming plans. The next launch is scheduled to take place in mid-July, Phillips said, to send up a space weather probe â€“ a radiation sensor to measure cosmic rays. â€śWe will also be launching a wedding proposal for a new client.Â He wants to propose to his girlfriend at the edge of space.â€ť