WE LAUNCHED OUR BALLOON!
We arrived in Rankin Springs, NSW on Thursday night after a long 4 hour drive. We quickly set up camp as light was fading so as to avoid getting too many mosquito bites, set up our temporary workshop and made last minute fixes until 1AM both code and hardware.
Early the next morning (04 November 2016) we had breakfast kindly made for us by Rankin Springs Primary School, before crossing the road to launch in an open space. We encountered a few delays fixing last minute bugs and problems such as fitting everything into the case without breaking anything, as well as attaching extra tracking equipment that allowed us to track the payload in real time.
We began filling the balloon at 11am and released it at 11:30am. A slight down-draft caught it at first, but it rose into the sky quickly, reaching 1km in less than 5 minutes.
After ensuring the radios were functioning, allowing the 3 cars of our group could communicate with each other, the chase began. While tracking it in real time, we followed the balloon along the closest roads we could find. This lasted for 2 hours, as the balloon rose through the layers of the atmosphere, bursting at 1:23pm at 30,000 metres altitude. The descent took 30 minutes, which was a lot quicker than we were expecting making us believe the parachute failed to deploy. The payload landed at 1:50pm in a wheat field. It travelled over 100km away from the launch-site.
We found it half an hour later, and, thankfully, a dirt road took us as close as 100 metres to it.
Find out the path of our payload here
The payload had landed safely thanks to the protection of the case, with even the rudder still intact. The balloon however… we cannot say the same for.
Unfortunately, when it hit the ground our components became disconnected, and we were unable to collect all of the data we had wanted. However it still makes for some amazing footage.
Thank you to the local primary school for making us breakfast and lunch and a big thank you to Robert for making this all a possibility. It has been an amazing experience and a pleasure to finally see our hard work put into action, and it has been a pleasure working with the G(A)SP team on this project, you nerds.