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Balloon Inflating, T-minus 10 minutes

The balloon is being inflated. We are less than 10 minutes to launch!

Launch Held until 11:15 CST

We are waiting on some additional helium to finish filling the balloon. The payload is in good shape and ready to fly. Launch time scheduled now for about 11:15 CST.

T-Minus 45 Minutes (or less)

We are less than an hour to the second launch of Ascent.  Here is the current forecasted flight path:


Revised Forecast for Today's Flight

Winds are easing a bit with the forecasted flight now covering 71 miles.  Estimated landing site is just north of I-70 near Sweet Springs, MO.

Ascent, Launch Number 2

In our first flight we got some incredible images.  Unfortunately, with all risky projects such as this one, problems are bound to occur.  The Canon camera with the fish-eye lens stopped working for about an hour during the ascent at an altitude of 50,000 feet until its descent at around 25,000 feet.  We think due to a loose connection with the control cable.  Additionally the GoPro camera lens got scratched and all of the video has a smudge slightly off center — unfortunately it is very noticeable in all of the video frames.

As a result we will be launching again this Wednesday morning, 11/9.

This is the link to use to follow the flight live using the GPS signal. .

The flight path will be superimposed on Google Earth.

The projected flight path is below.  As you can see, the winds begin to increase this time of year and we’re projecting a 90 mile recovery trip east of Kansas City.

Flight Map

Projected Flight for Second Launch On November 9, 2011.

As with the first flight the payload will consist of GPS for tracking online, and 3 cameras.

  1. The GoPro camera which was mounted facing down on the bottom of the payload package had a scratched lens. The lens was replaced this morning and we are now thinking of mounting it on the GPS antenna arm – still facing down though.
  2. The Canon DSLR will again be aimed out the side and we think we have a solution to the intermittent way it worked the last time.
  3. And finally Trevor has loaned a FlipCamera which we will probably attached facing up an angle so that we can get some video of the sky and not have either the balloon or parachute block that view.

We will not be sending a live video feed from the GoPro camera however the GPS signal will be picked up and broadcast at the web address above.

Kansas City from 94,000 Feet

Two pictures from our camera of the Kansas City area with labels:


Kansas City from 94,000 feet.

Kansas City from 94,000 feet.

More Pictures from the Ascent Balloon

These are frames from the HD camera video.

You can clearly see the curve of the Earth, how thin the atmosphere is, and a few recognizable surface features. I think the lake on the right is Harrisonville City Lake.

The shredded balloon is in one image, while the shredded balloon and parachute connection is visible in another. The shadow image is a few frames before impact.

The view from 94,021 feet up.

The balloon just after burst.

The balloon moments after its burst.

Kansas City MO and KS from 94,000 feet.

The payload sees its shadow moments before touchdown.

Video: Take a Ride on the Ascent Balloon!

Onboard HD Video Camera Footage:

Video of the Launch:

Ascent Balloon Release

Today was the day and to say things came together is an understatement. We learned from what happened on Saturday and as you can see from the pictures we had a very secure method for inflating the balloon and also for attaching the scale to measure the balloon’s lifting capability.

While Trevor and students went to get the Helium Fred, and I with the help from several students assembled the tracking station. During that time we verified the TV and GPS signals and were ready for the helium. Inflation of the balloon went smoothly and after a countdown the balloon was released. It slowly but steadily rose nearly vertically from the field and for much of the ascent stayed generally over us.

Use this link to see the track the balloon followed.

What was really cool was that we were able to see the balloon all the way until it burst. Yes we saw it burst at an altitude of 94,000 feet!!! One moment there was a small but bright white dot and then nothing. Through his binoculars Fred saw fragments of the balloon around the parachute.

In the picture with the flag look for a white dot up to the right from the top of the flag. That is the balloon at around 88,000 feet.

Within a half-hour after burst we decided to ‘saddle up’ and start heading for where it looked like the payload was heading for. First stop, however, was the pizza. Then we drove south on Highway 69 and then east on 223rd street. (The CAPS building is at 141st Street). We followed the GPS signal (Fred had set it to sound like a Yeti!) and eventually after following several grunts from the GPS we wound up near a pond at a T intersection at 215th street. According to the Yeti the payload was to our left but after connecting the antenna for a stronger signal we were told it was straight ahead. And sure enough it had landed in a plowed field maybe 500 feet from the road.

See the pictures here:

Pictures from the Landing Site

Pictures taken by Trevor Sutcliffe at the landing site today:

Payload and parachute as found.

The retrieval crew gather around the payload.

The payload being examined.

Carrying the payload back- success!


The payload was successfully recovered this afternoon!!  It landed in a mowed field about 50 yards off the road making it easy to find.  The payload is now hanging on display in the atrium of the CAPS building.  All the electrical and camera contents appear to be intact!  Bob Riddle has the memory cards in his possession and we’ll soon get to take a peak at the actual footage.  Stay tuned for sample pictures coming soon!

August 2017
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