Dr. Fleisch retrieved the balloon last night. Here are some shots of the action from Near Space!
The Live Feed from Launch Day, complete with pictures recovered from the payload!
2:06 PM We are headed back to Witt. Only landed 20 minutes away after all that!
1:51 PM Leaving the field. The payload is still in the tree. Dr. Fleisch is going to talk to the tree people to find a way to retrieve it.
1:43 PM Dr. Fleisch is trying to get a cherry picker.
1:41 PM Trying to figure out how to get it out of the tree.
1:29 PM WE SEE IT!!! Across a field, in a tree. NOT IN A LAKE!
1:20 PM Parked at a rough road, walking from here.
1:13 PM We’re thinking it is not IN the water, since that spot signal is still sending data. The other data may have cut out before because of low altitude.
1:12 PM Waiting for spot update. If last two locations are the same then we know where it is.
1:07 PM “If you let it go in Springfield, maybe that’s where you should be looking!” -People fishing at the lake.
1:05 PM Arrive at lake, and begin to ask people if they saw anything land.
1:05 PM Report of data still alive from other car!
1:04 PM On Kiser Lake Road, headed towards lake.
1:03 PM No more data seems to be transmitting, but the Go Pro camera may still be okay.
1:02 PM The balloon has landed, or should we say, has lake-ed. It dropped into the lake!
1:00 PM 16,000 feet and over a lake.
12: 59 PM It’s headed straight for a lake. The good news is, we are also headed straight for the lake…
12:58 PM We’re on the look out! Lots of cows and forests. Hmmm…
12:52 PM Remote wifi power dies, thank goodness for iPhones!
12:49 PM 18,000 ft and passing a tractor in the road
2:47 PM The roads are getting more and more narrow…
12:46 PM “Pick up the pace!” Are speeding tickets are on the department?? 12:45 PM Balloon is headed over highway 36.12:43 PM Heading back onto Kite. Balloon is right between Kite and Fueston at 27,000 feet.12:41 PM 30, 000 feet. No road where it’s headed. Headed back to Runkle Road.
12:40 PM The balloon is crossing Conrad Road to the north. We’re about to pass that. There look to be no roads around where it is landing. Looking for a place to pull over.
12:39 PM We are on Kite Road, and it’s at 37,000 feet less than half a mile away from us. This is looking to be much easier than driving to West Virginia!
12:38 PM 38,000 feet!
12:31 PM There are a lot of grain machines and silos around here. Hope we don’t have to climb anything…
12:24 PM After a final reading of 99,225 feet, the ballon is on descent!!
12:17 PM 90,204 feet!
12:14 PM Radio in from Dr. Fleisch to be on the look out for the altitude reading to start declining, indicating descent. We’re pretty much right underneath the balloon!
12:12 PM On highway 560 in the rural outskirts of Urbana, balloon is still a mile west of us.
12:05 PM On 55 south of Urbana, heading west
12:01 PM Back in downtown Urbana, it’s at 70,000 feet… expected to “pop” and parachute back to earth at anywhere 80,000-100,000 feet. We’re excited to see this video!
11:47 AM We have pulled over to see what the balloon is going to do. It looks like it’s headed right for us. Dr. Fleisch needs caffeine, proposes a stop at Speedway.
11:45 AM There is a driver that has turned between our Witt Van and Dr. Fleisch’s car. It’s going very slowly. Inhibiting science!
11:44 AM In the center of downtown Urbana, the balloon looks like it’s headed towards us.
11:37AM The balloon is at 40,000 feet, a couple miles west of our location!
11:26 AM On 68, and balloon has reached 27,000 feet!
11:22 AM We’re headed towards Urbana on 68
11:12 AM We’re off with the recovery team! Data packets report that the balloon has reached 10,000 feet!
11:05AM Many of the groups celebrate, and the recovery team gets down to business!
11:05AM “Recovery…you have a job to do!” -Dr. Fleisch
11:04AM The strings are cut, and LIFT OFF! The balloon is launched!
11:03AM The groups are listed and are a go!
11:02AM The balloon is let go on a tether!
11:00AM The tracking and recovery team waits for one final test “spot” to ensure their tracking equipment is working properly before we launch.
10:54AM Breaking news: News-Sun reporter arrives to document the event!
10:53AM The parachute is attached to the payload.
10:52AM The payload is taken outside!
10:50AM Antenna signal is hard to read, but we think it is only because of the building. Once outside, the signal should pick back up.
10:46AM Crisis averted! There was a chance that the memory card was missing from the camera, BUT it was found. Phew!
10:41AM Dr. Fleisch quickly walks around to check in with each group to ensure that they are all good to go!
10:35AM The groups fill the payload with all of their gadgets!
10:25AM Some various Wittenberg faculty and staff and their children join the launching festivities!
10:21AM With all teams accounted for, groups work to pull together all of their last minute adjustments, measurements, and calculations.
10:00AM The lift and launch team begin to fill the balloon with helium.
9:45AM The lift and launch team make their final adjustments to the tethers that will guide the balloon into the sky.
9:00AM Dr. Fleisch and the first few group members arrive at the Observatory to begin preparations.
Our launch day is approaching! Yesterday the teams had their final all team meeting. The teams are trying to perfect all aspects of the flight and recovery.
The final payload weight that we will send to near space is approximately 3.6 pounds and we feel that
this weight is close to perfect.
The launch is set to lift off Thursday, May 2 at approximately 11 am.
Prior to the launch, each of the eight teams are required to create a checklist of everything that they are in charge of doing before and during the launch.
All teams are scheduled to meet outside of the Wittenberg University observatory at 10 am. At ten, the balloon will be filled and all electronics will be checked to make sure everything is ready flight!
Almost instantly after the balloon is launched, the recovery team will get in a van with a tracker and go recover the balloon. As all the work for the near space launch is almost complete, all we can do is hope and pray for clear skies on Thursday!
Check the blog for live updates as we prepare the launch, and then as we join the recovery team to track down the balloon!
After a little uncertainty due to weather and wind and then a few attempts until our payload (the container of data-gathering gadgets) was just the right weight, we had a sucessful test launch. And it only got stuck in a tree once:
Inflating the balloon with just enough helium
Overseen by the watchful eye of Dr. Fleisch
Some passing kids from the Springfield Promise Neighborhood got a mini-science lesson from Sage and Kim!
Rory, filled with inspiration and Witt-pride by the project!
And we’re off!
Not your everyday lunch cooler…
Power and Thermal
Group members Max Dehnke, Aaron Coeling, Dave Moore and Brian Ringholz have been working hard as the “Power and Thermal” group. Their job is to provide energy and insulation to the payload, so that when it is in flight, the devises will be able to properly function. Today they tested to see if the power would work at different temperatures. They received permission to use one of the freezers in the science center to look at the temperatures in and out of the payload to see the difference between the two environments and whether or not the sensors will work as they balloon ascends into near space and its decreasing temperatures.
Last Minute Adjustments
With the test launch scheduled to be in less then 24 hours, the payload team met for one final check. As they met, they quickly realized that some last minute adjustments would be necessary.
Although previous tests and calculations suggested that we were on track to be under our weight limit, when all materials were placed in the payload it was about 4 lbs 6 oz. . . with our goal at 3 lbs 8 oz. With hitting the gym not an option to lose some of the weight, payload group members began to work quickly to redesign the payload. They chose a box that is much lighter. It has less insulation, but we’re hoping that it will still provide adequate protection for all of our materials.
On Friday April 12th, members from each of the Wittenberg University near space teams joined together and formed a panel Wittenberg’s Celebration of Learning Day.
This event took place in the Shouvlin center and turned out to be a great success! The room was packed and there was even people standing. The panel began with a short introduction from SI James Bass, followed by a one minute description from each group. Multiple groups also provided links and visuals explaining what they are responsible for in this project. Since this panel had great success we have high hopes that the University becomes aware and excited to watch this nearspace launch take place!
Earlier tonight, members from every group in Dr. Fleisch’s Astronomy Near Space Project met for the third all-team meeting. This meeting took on a much greater sense of urgency with the launch just a few weeks away. Excitement is mounting, but with it also comes the pressure to see a successful launch take place.
Dr. Fleisch and the Flight Path and Recovery team discussed the immense importance of their tasks. The team must successfully track the flight and landing of the balloon so the team can recover the balloon and the valuable information the balloon will gather during its trip through the atmosphere.
The Imaging team has been familiarizing themselves with the Go-Pro Camera, the device which will record pictures from the Earth’s atmosphere during the balloon’s flight. Dr. Fleisch and the team have been tirelessly working to make sure everything will be working smoothly on launch day.
The Payload group is tasked with the interesting challenge of making a sign to go on the balloon explaining its purpose and that the balloon is harmless. There may even be a reward for anyone who returns the equipment after the launch.
However, the most important news to come from the meeting is the announcement of the tentative dates of the two launches. The first launch, or tethered launch, will take place on Wednesday, April 17. This launch will function as a complete test of the launch and technology. Assuming the test-run is successful, the final launch will take place on Saturday, April 20!
The Power and Thermal group is in charge of a variety of important jobs in the near space launch. The group has to provide the power for the technology during the launch. The group consists off Brian Ringholz, David Moore, Aaron Coeling and Max Dehnke, all Wittenberg athletes. According to Ringholz,”so far we have determined the energy we need to supply to the power tracker and the science board.” The group is planning to do a thermal test of the equipment in a freezer in the near future. The team also has determined the arrangement of the equipment inside the payload container for the thermal test. The group will hopefully find that all of their equipment will hold up against the forces that will be present in the atmosphere during the launch. Power and Thermal will be sure to get the launch running on all cylinders.