We launched another balloon on June 5th @ 7:45 in the morning. The projected flight path placed us onthe ground in about an hour in a half just outside of Oak Park, MN. The launch of the balloon went off without a hitch from the Forestview Middle School parking lot. We had a payload weight of 3.6 pounds. We were flying a RTrak-HAB, 2 Canon SX120IS cameras and one GoPro. One of the Canon cameras was shooting every 30 seconds and the other was shooting every 15 seconds. The GoPro was shooting video at 1080HD. Also included in the paylaod was or trusty little pocket finder! More about that SUPER device in a bit!
Everything was going as planned until we hit 34,678 feet. At that time our RTrak-HAB stopped sending out it position via the APRS website. We noticed that in the last packet that we recieved the payload had encountered winds moving at 115 mph! We were surprised by this given that when we launched there was not even a breath of air. You can see in the flight path map above where the balloon was when we lost contact. On the positive side, the cameras were working perfectly! To be honest, we were not very concerned. We knew we had the PocketFinder on board and it has not let us down yet!
We ended up pulling over in Foley, MN and ordering some breakfast. We thought we would just sit and wait it out. We knew the PocketFinder needed to have cell tower reception. Just as we were sitting down to eat our breakfast, my cell phone rang and my wife said she could see the PocketFinder on the ground south of St. Cloud. We just knew that PocketFinder would call us! We brought up the PocketFinder app and sure enough, there was our payload laying in a newly planted corn field just west of Clearwater, MN. We pounded our breakfast and rushed the 21 miles to the landing zone.
Here is a picture one of the cameras took as it got to the edge of space. We are not sure of the what the final altitude was but by the two above shots, we are guessing right around 80,000 feet. In the second picture from the bottom, you can see Mille Lacs Lake in the bottom left corner. This is what Mille Lacs looks like 70,000 feet. In the bottom picture you can clearly see the blackness of space and the curvature of the Earth. We are working on editing the GoPro video. The GoPro caught the whole flight in HD. You can even hear the balloon pop and see the camera go into free fall. Very cool stuff!
Visit our YouTube Channel to see the rest of the parts of this flight.