Balloon launch to recognize success of software program


CORVALLIS, Ore. - Students and faculty from Oregon State University will launch a weather balloon named "Firefox One" to 100,000 feet on Saturday, Oct. 22, to celebrate the first 100 million downloads of a popular web browser from the Mozilla Foundation.

The event will be on the Memorial Union Quad at 11:45 a.m., with launching promptly at noon. It is free and open to the public.

Firefox is a popular web browser produced by Mozilla, and is actually made available for downloading anywhere in the world from OSU's Open Source Lab, a distribution, education and research center for this and many other types of open source software.

Free and open source software allows for development of the programs by the whole computer community. This industry is growing rapidly and offers opportunities for both consumers and business to obtain sophisticated software at no cost. OSU is an academic leader in the development of this software concept and recently hosted a conference on open source applications for government uses that drew participants from 17 states and such corporations as Intel, Red Hat, Novell and IBM.

The balloon launch is a collaborative effort of the Open Source Lab, the Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium, and the Oregon State Linux Users Group. In this case, the balloon payload will be a large Firefox banner, CD and camera to take photos of Firefox at the edge of space.