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May 13 2013

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Apollo67 Launch 5

On May 12, as part of a going-away celebration for our departing Apollo67 team member, we launched yet another balloon. He is now on the other side of the world in Australia, and we are currently drawing up plans to deliver a payload to him via high altitude balloon. We think crossing the equator and a couple oceans may be challenging.

During this launch, we nailed our telemetry. We had enough radio equipment to guarantee that we were going to track this thing.  We had an APRS beacon blasting FAR more frequently than it should have been, and a good GPS chip, and decent antennas. We also had an IR blaster attached to a 9V battery so that after landing it would be easily visible with night vision goggles at night (most of our recoveries run into the evening/night). On the ground, though, is where we had the real powerful stuff. We had a radio with an antenna on a mast so that after the landing we would still be able to track it (once the radio goes below a certain altitude, the likelihood of an APRS receiver capturing signals is low, so it becomes difficult to track the final GPS coordinate of the balloon). A laptop parsed the radio signals and was able to lead us directly to the final location of the payload. This turned out to be a good thing.

A view of Madison.

A view of Madison.

It turned out that our flight path took us almost directly over Madison. If it had gone straight over we might not have captured photos of it, but this path gave us some great results.

The actual flight path.

The actual flight path.

There were bets on whether it would land in Wisconsin or Illinois. It just barely made it into Illinois.

Original prediction (yellow), modified prediction (green), and actual (blue). Modified prediction was taken after calculating the actual ascent rate an hour into the trip. This gave us a much more accurate prediction.

Original prediction (yellow), modified prediction (green), and actual (blue). Modified prediction was taken after calculating the actual ascent rate an hour into the trip. This gave us a much more accurate prediction.

A horizontal view of the original predicted (yellow), the modified prediction (green), and the actual (blue).

A horizontal view of the original predicted (yellow), the modified prediction (green), and the actual (blue).

Chris prepares equipment.

Chris prepares equipment.

Issac hacking on the computer to make sure everything is working.

Issac hacking on the computer to make sure everything is working.

 

The payload under construction.

The payload under construction.

This package didn’t use a custom foam enclosure; this time we went for waterproof and rugged, and it’s a good thing we did. This was a simple and effective enclosure.

Inside the package.

Inside the package.

The full payload being measured to estimate how much to fill the balloon.
The full payload being measured to estimate how much to fill the balloon.
Chris testing out equipment for recovery before we leave.

Chris testing out equipment for recovery before we leave.

Nachos break!

Nachos break! Before leaving, we took a break for nachos, leftovers from the Chris and Heather wedding reception the night before.

We found a perfect spot in the wind shadow of a warehouse on a very grassy field.

We found a perfect spot in the wind shadow of a warehouse on a very grassy field.

Alex holding the balloon steady.

Alex holding the balloon steady.

Filling up the balloon.

Filling up the balloon.

About to release.

About to release.

 

Goodbye!

Goodbye!

Watching the balloon travel back at Ops (Sector67).

Watching the balloon travel back at Ops (Sector67). We knew it would be traveling by Madison, so we hurried back to Sector67 to regroup and change cars and people, then start chasing the balloon.

Issac pretending to be Jack Bauer.

After the balloon stopped moving, we knew approximately where it was. We went there and set up the equipment to get a more exact reading. Here is Issac pretending to be Jack Bauer.

There it is! Using the radio to decipher its final location.

There it is! Using the radio to decipher its final location.

It looks like it might be in the lake.

It looks like it might be in the lake.

Yep, there it is.

Yep, there it is.

Jesse bravely rescues the soggy payload.

Jesse bravely rescues the soggy payload. Fortunately the insides were perfectly dry.

Looking at the video after recovery.

Looking at the video after recovery.

Permanent link to this article: http://apollo67.com/apollo67-launch-5-433/