We had three to get ready...
Arrived at high bay. Moved gondola toward door and rotated around. Jeff has started closing up the cryostat access panel. Amber showed up 5 minutes prior after a heroic day of traveling, culminating in a 5 hour drive from El Paso. Milligan's dad showed up again too!
Pre-flight checkouts in progress. Should be picked up and out the door soon.
Gondola is out the door, baffles are open, flight train is attached, mirror is cleaned. Now lifting to remove the casters and put on the crush pads.
CSBF is figuring out which direction to lay the balloon. The pi ball seems to be indicating fairly calm winds (~8 knots by my reckoning) at 950 feet AGL, but perhaps a little too strong halfway up. Britt is feeding us cookies.
Looks like they've picked a layout direction. CSBF is moving out the helium tanker trucks and the balloon spool truck (AKA "The Monster").
We're going to roll out to the pad in about 5-10 minutes.
We're out on the pad, on lithium (flight) batteries, and our pre-flight checks are done. We're now hands-off. The layout direction looks dead on to the direction indicated by the pi ball, though the wind is a little stronger than earlier both at the surface and at pi ball altitude. We're waiting for them to roll out the balloon.
The balloon has been unrolled!! They are installing the helium vent valves at the top and making the attachment to the parachute. Inflation could start as soon as 10-15 minutes.
0640h local, roughly:
Balloon inflation has begun! We're gonna launch or waste $150,000 worth of balloon and helium...
Balloon still inflating! Almost there...
There may be a problem with the elevation actuator. We set the elevation to approximately 60 degrees pre-launch, but on launch the elevation was observed to be extremely low. It's possible the actuator may have broken, meaning we will have no elevation control for the flight.
It indeed seems that our elevation actuator is broken. While we can still do the observations we hope to do, it will limit our flexibility in scheduling and making the observations. This is going to be the last post of this live-blog, as soon Britt and I will have to start driving so we can meet the payload after termination. I'll try and post again tonight.