Sunday, 23 October 2011

The launch of APEX ALPHA

The launch of APEX ALPHA was a little fraught due to ground wind. The team had to de-camp to another part of the field because the balloon was being buffeted and any slight scratch on the surface would cause a weakness which would cause the balloon to burst before it reached the target altitude of 42km. Yes, you read that right. Forty two kilometers.

As the launch progressed, the long line between the balloon and the payload under tension caused the balloon to sink close to the ground. The technique to get airborne requires a 2nd line on which the balloon gently rises under its own lift. A team member holds the payload until the point of launch, and then runs after the balloon to ensure that it gets height before the payload is released. This ensures that the balloon does not drag the payload on the ground, or into nearby buildings or trees.

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