Balloon into Space: It’s on

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The launch vehicle is ready.  After some back and forth with the FAA, we have determined that Ocean Shores is an acceptable place to launch our balloon.  And since it’s razor clamming season, we are scheduled to launch on October 18th.  (low tide weekend).

What happened with the GPS Issue mentioned in the last post?  It ended up that it was an issue with my phone.  My good friend Karlin volunteered his old Droid 2 to see if the GPS worked any better.  It worked MUCH better.  The readings were usually within 10 feet of the device. 

Hopefully, he understands that very likely, this will be a one-way trip for his poor phone.  There’s a small chance it may be returned to him, but even then most likely it will be returned in many more pieces than it was given to me.  So, I suppose that makes Pure Power our biggest (and only) corporate sponsor for this venture.   Big thanks to Karlin for supporting us!

So with the GPS issue addressed, we no longer needed to build a beacon device and we got down to building up the landing vehicle.

The boys helped me create a styrofoam case around Karlin’s phone. 

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On the underside, there is a small hole for the camera to take pictures.

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The white bands are velcro straps.  The case is velcro’d slightly forward of the wing.

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On the top side of the plane is a hook.  The balloon is attached via an O-ring tied to some twine.  When the balloon pops, the drag on the balloon should slip it off of the hook and the plane should be free and clear of the remains of the balloon.  If the balloon stays attached, I was afraid that the airplane would not fly properly causing it to descend faster than it should, OR cause excessive vibrations affecting the photography.

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To predict the trajectory of the balloon, we found a more updated site.    We won’t get a true simulations until we are closer to launch date, but we are hoping the trajectory will look something like this…

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A few concerns remain:

1.  Will the balloon actually be able to lift up this payload?  We weighed it using Tenille’s luggage weigher…. It came in at .8 lbs.  It still felt heavy when I was holding it up using the string.    It would be a huge bummer if the balloon does not even get off the ground… Or if it pops while inflating… Or if we don’t have enough helium… I do have 2 tanks… (thanks to 40% off Michael’s coupons… )

2.  Will the freezing cold at high altitudes affect the phone?  I know that some people have put hand warmers in with the electronics to keep it running.  I might look into that…

If you want to join me on October 18th for the launch, let me know.    I’ll keep you posted as to exact time/location.  (Razor clamming in the evening).  If you’re interested in driving out to who knows where on Saturday (Oct 19th) morning as part of the retrieval team, let me know.  I’ll let you know where I received the last known location. 

Retrieving the phone still feels a bit improbable to me.  I asked Tenille, what she thought the chances were… She said 50/50…  What a super supportive wife… (soon to be a disappointed one… )

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