FIREBall launched today.
They had a fairly late launch at about 11:45 AM, which is great for FIREBall -- it means they will get to spend more time at float in darkness.
The launch was not without complications. The winds were actually quite low, and the balloon went up very slowly compared to the NCT launch I saw roughly a month ago. Once they released the payload, it went basically straight up. The launch vehicle driver was backing away, but Big Bill can't go very fast so FIREBall hit the launch pin on the way up, scraping along the doors that cover their telescope. It looked (and sounded) fairly violent, and the FIREBall team was rightfully concerned that the doors might have been damaged and they wouldn't be able to open them once they got up to observing altitude:
Once they got high enough, they tried it -- and succeeded! It's now nearly 1AM, and the payload is over the Four Corners, drifting northwest at 22 knots at an altitude of nearly 113,000 feet. From what I hear, the mission is going well. Go FIREBall!
After the launch, we tied up some loose ends and most of us went to the lake house for a dip in the lake and some food. Britt and Michele returned late tonight, as well as Shaul and Ilan with a new addition in tow, Kyle.
The earliest opportunity we are likely to have to launch is Thursday (weather-dependent, of course).
Pictures of FIREBall launch: