High-Altitude Balloon Experiment

balloon takeoff

Remember the high-altitude balloon project from last summer?  We’ve finally achieved lift-off!  The balloon team has completed the payload assembly, tested it on the ground, tested it tethered inside the warehouse, including radio datalink, and done a tethered test outside in the parking lot.  Unexpectedly, they also did a “free-flight” test when the tether string broke, and they were able to see the balloon payload float off to parts unknown.  We learned a bunch of things:  get a stronger string; use a higher-powered radio link; be ready to track the system (even if you don’t think it’s going to fly away); and use cheaper batteries.  Oh, well—that’s the way real science goes.  The team is putting together a new payload/balloon/parachute and plans to do more tethered experiments and an actual, planned flight later in the summer.

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