About the Team

The goal of Project Viking is to realize our dream of space exploration, and with the launch of Viking I we have successfully explored near space and taken photographs of the Earth and our hometown through our own lens.

Planning for the project began in November 2010 in an AP Physics classroom at Explore Knowledge Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada. During my senior year we set out to work on “one project to rule them all” – something truly spectacular that we could share with the community and school that has sheltered us thus far in life before we graduate and venture off into the world.

Many months of research, construction, and careful planning later, we believe the Viking I has accomplished what it set out to do. Not only did it take the high altitude pictures which we envisioned, what it captured in between proved equally stunning: Hundreds of images of Henderson and Las Vegas, Nevada – among them pictures of our old elementary and middle schools, the neighborhood we grew up in, and local landmarks like the Las Vegas strip and Hoover Dam.

Valuable too has been the relationships we have made with new friends in the community and with the Hualapai Indian tribe on their reservation in Peach Springs, Arizona, where the balloon landed. We had the pleasure of working together with Rebecca and George at GPSCity, who graciously sponsored the project with a GPS tracker and supported us along the way.

The legacy of this project will not only be in the pictures which we share with the world, but in those who we inspire to explore the unexplored, just as we were inspired. We didn’t just reconfirm that space is black and that the earth is round, we set our goals high and shot for the stars. We want to send nearly one hundred 8×10 photos to buildings in the community which we were able to photograph throughout the journey, as well as to our families, friends, and supporters to share this artistic and scientific blend of worlds.

I’d also like to give special thanks to Bob Sokalski, who helped with photo enhancements on the images over at the Flight Pictures pages.

Thank you for visiting our website. If you would like to, we have setup a donations link on the side bar where you can support our upcoming launch of Viking II as well as site maintenance.

Stephen Pretto

Age 17
Team Leader of Project Viking

I started development of Project Viking in November of 2010 after being inspired by Icarus from students at MIT and Aerial Parade by Cody Kodes. Throughout the journey I coordinated the creation of the Viking I team, gathered supplies for construction, and worked through balloon math in Physics class along the way. My hobbies include computer programming, website development, and reading (this year I also launched a site called MobyMap which compiles all of the locations in Moby Dick).

I am a senior in high school at Explore Knowledge Academy and Beacon Academy in Las Vegas, and next year will attend the UNLV Honors College as a computer science student.


Andrew Campling

Age 17
Launch Coordinator

I joined Project Viking later in its life, in February 2011. I wanted to join the team because opportunities like this are so rare – how often do a group of high school students launch a satellite into near-space? My purpose in the project was to work on the trajectory predictions and prepare the balloon on launch day. I am a fencer in my spare time, and like Stephen I’m very interested in computers. I also do some singing and theatrical acting outside of school.

I’m also a senior at Explore Knowledge Academy in Las Vegas, and I’m going to the UNLV Honors College this fall as a pre-med major with a minor in theatre.


Jake Sikes

Age 19

I joined Viking in February as the final member of the team. I helped launch the balloon and went with the rest of the team to Arizona to find the landing site.  My hobbies are playing the guitar, painting, and tinkering with old parts. When we were looking for the balloon, my experience in hiking and camping also came in handy.

I’m a senior at EK Academy, and next year I’m going to UNLV to study psychology.


4 Responses to About the Team

  1. Gabriele says:

    I truly learned about almost all of this, but in spite of this, I still believed it turned out beneficial. Nice post!

  2. YongsooGweon says:

    you guys r gorgeous !!!
    I heard u guys project from south korea, and came into this website through googling.

  3. Drucilla says:

    Any Tom, Dick or Harry.

  4. Elidia says:

    All roads lead to Rome.

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