This is the 4th time that Michael has helped out with a Girl’s Inc. high altitude balloon launch and the 2nd year helping with the EUREKA! – STEM camp at UNO. We were scheduled to start the final pod integration at 10 am with the launch around 11 am.
I had checked the weather the day before and it forecast rain around 1 pm, so we thought we would be safe for the launch. I checked my weather app at 9:30 am and saw this:
We can launch in any weather, barring lightning and maybe high winds, but we had never launched in a thunderstorm before. We planned to set up quickly and hoped that we could launch before it started raining too hard.
While we were getting the big balloon prepared, we had an activity where the girls wrote their names with a personalized note and information to email if found and those were attached to helium party balloons and released.
We had 4 emails sent saying that balloons were found within 2 miles from the release point.
It was starting to rain so we began the fill and there was not much gas in the cylinder. Evidently, the gas company accidentally gave us an almost empty canister and this is the most we could fill the balloon.
The only option was to go back to the gas company and get more lifting gas and do the launch later in the day. They apologized for the difficulty and plan to give us a discount on our next order. One benefit of waiting a few hours is that the rain was lessening, even though the tarp was soaked. We used our spare balloon to be safe instead of trying to re-inflate the first one in case it was compromised.
This time we got off the ground and the balloon was on its way. This is what the prediction looked like the day before the flight:
This is what the path actually looked like:
We had a visual on the pods as they descended and snapped a couple of photos on the chase.
The pods were returned to the camp for analysis.
We were able to get some video footage from our new quad-copter. I will post video from the camera from the balloon and from the drone soon. In the meantime, here is a link to a video put together by UNO about the event.
Edited to add:
Drone footage from balloon launch
HAB Recovery via Drone Scout Test