Thursday, June 11, 2009

June 11 launch attempt -- now, go cat go!

We had three to get ready...

0215h local:
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!

0230h local:
Pre-flight checkouts in progress. Should be picked up and out the door soon.

0340h local:
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.

0413h local:
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.

0436h local:
Looks like they've picked a layout direction. CSBF is moving out the helium tanker trucks and the balloon spool truck (AKA "The Monster").

0446h local:
We're going to roll out to the pad in about 5-10 minutes.

0546h local:
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.

0615h local:
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...

0712h local:
Balloon still inflating! Almost there...

0801h local:

0805h local:
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.

0947h local:
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.


  1. Yeah!! Hooray!! Congrats from MN

  2. YAY! It's amazing how wrapped up in the drama of this balloon campaign I've been thanks to this blog.

    Congratulations to all the EBEX Crew and fingers crossed for a good flight.

    News story is posted on physics home page.


  3. 9:40 Local Time: the first flight of EBEX has been terminated. We are just few miles east of Lake Havasu City. The descend vector should put us down farther east away from the city.

  4. Great job guys!!! I'm was afraid that if you passed the border California Air Guard will bring you down by force :-)

  5. You made it to Arizona like a rocket!! 50 knts average