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High Hopes Balloon Launch May 28, 2019 – Update

High Hopes Balloon Launch May 28, 2019 – Update


In my last post I said I would update on the status of payloads and the recovery. The photo on the end of that post (also see below) showed the payloads hanging in a tree – that was all we knew thanks to Eric Wang – he snapped that photo and sent it to us to show he had found the payloads after back country skiing a total of 9 miles to get it.

He didn’t text anything more for hours because the weather was closing in, thunderstorms were forecast for later in the day, so they were in a hurry to get back.

But get them he did – the rocket was gone so we were anxious to download the video to see what happened. I picked up the payloads the next day – note the rocket launcher tube is split in half and hanging by the wires meant to ignite the motor. 4 GoPros now needed to be downloaded (4 to 6 hours of video).
This shot from above 100,000 feet just before the balloon burst told the sad news (That’s Lake Tahoe to the right of the payload BTW). You can see the nose of the rocket sticking out from the right of the payload above it – it was supposed to launch from 60,000 feet, so the fact that it was still there at 100,000 feet explained all we needed to know. Note the soda can inside the payload – it came back intact and the students toasted the experiment with sips of “space soda.”

The post mortem afterwards suggests the wiring came loose at some point so no ignition.

Watching the video frame by frame provided evidence of the rocket’s fate. In this screen shot below you can see the rocket falling away to the left just after balloon burst. The strings caught the mount during free fall and busted it loose.

Below is video of the launch from the payload’s perspective. (NOTE: you can see the launch from the ground in my last post.)

Below is the balloon burst from above the south end of Lake Tahoe just above 100,000 feet.

And here is the landing in a tree on a ridge in California near Sierra At Tahoe ski area.

I visited the classes today that designed and built the payloads. I returned their payloads and showed them the videos. There was disappointment that the rocket didn’t launch, but mostly there was excitement and questions and numerous comments about how much they’d learned in the process.

They want to be part of next year’s High Hopes Project and have a very intriguing idea for an experiment. I won’t share too many specifics, but it involves a rocket and breaking the sound barrier.

Lake Tahoe from above 100,000 feet.

Learning is messy!





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