MCC Launch – 3/28/15

This was our 42nd launch and, since we know that 42 is the answer to life, the universe, and everything, that must make it pretty special.

My General Physics II students developed experiments including studying the speed of sound at different altitudes, measuring wind speed using an anemometer, and measuring the voltage of electrochemical batteries.

We met at the physics lab at 8:00 am to do some last-minute preparation of the pods.

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We left at 8:45 am to drive to Lake Manawa, the location of the launch. It was chilly out (38 degrees F) and a little breezy, but it was clear and the sun was out. We launched around 10 am.



We decided to use a 2000 gram balloon instead of our usual 1200 gram ones. We were hoping to get to a higher altitude using it. It worked because we broke our record for altitude reaching over 103,000 ft.

The path of the balloon closely followed the prediction and landed near Falls City, NE, about 80 miles south from the launch site.

It was a pretty easy recovery, laying on the side of a hill about 1/4 of a mile from the nearest minimum maintenance road.


We had a few technical issues with the electronics. Our digital fish scale that we use to measure the lift on the balloon wasn’t functioning at all. Either the battery was so low that it only read 0 lb. 0 oz. or it was damaged from temperature variations over the winter. So, we had to estimate the amount of lift. Also, the APRS did not work at all. The transmitter was working, the batteries were new and we taped them tight so they wouldn’t shake loose. The only thing that we think could have caused the problem was the connector to the antenna – something we have had difficulty with in the past.

We had two cameras on the string of pods. One was pointing out and one was pointing up to catch the burst. We are still working on some of the photo and video editing and data analysis from the flight, but here is a photo at altitude and a video of the Best. Burst. Ever. to whet your appetite.


Edited to add:

See data from the flight here:

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