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.