Fall 2012 Launches
Five launches, four states, five recoveries, 17 payloads, 105,184 ft max altitude, 488,487 feet of cumulative altitude, one great season! And these are just flights flown by High Altitude Science and do not include all the flights flown by our customers. The Eagle continues to set the bar high!
November 17th 2012 TEDxBeaconStreet Launch
Joseph flew up to Boston, MA for this exciting launch in New England. The original goal was to launch the Eagle from a school near Boston, and capture live telemetry as the Jet Stream carried the Eagle out over the North Atlantic. Our primary mission objective was retrieving the live telemetry so recovery was not a high priority.
The morning of the launch, wind predictions had the Eagle flying within a few miles of Boston’s Logan International Airport. The Eagle would be well above the air traffic taking off and landing at Logan, but if something went wrong and it came down early, it would be descending through some of the most congested airspace in the country. After talking to Logan’s ATC (Air Traffic Controller) Joseph decided to take the Eagle west, away from any major cities, for the launch. This would also mean that he could actually recover our Eagle.
After an ascent to over 97,000ft under its weather balloon, the Eagle parachuted down and landed in a tree 70 ft off the ground. The local fire department volunteered to send out one of their ladder trucks, but their ladder wasn’t long enough. Next Joseph got in touch with one of the local certified tree climbers. Anthony came out and had the Eagle on the ground in a few minutes. All Anthony asked for as payment was the weather balloon parachute. If you ever get an Eagle stuck in a tree in central Massachusetts, Anthony is your guy.
The Organizers of TEDxBeaconStreet also put together an “account” of our mission. It’s not very accurate, but far more entertaining! You can read about it here. There’s also a link to some of the video. You’ll notice the flight was not very stable. This is because we had cut down the size of the Delta Flight Frame to get it to fit in Joseph’s carry-on luggage. This made the platform much less stable. Compare this with Videos of unmodified Eagle flights to see the difference in stability.
November 23rd 2012 Black Friday Rocky Mountain Launch
Instead of flying home to Houston from Boston, Joseph flew out to Denver to do a launch one of our weather balloon kits with friends in the Rockies. By the way, did we mention that airport security finds high altitude balloon flight hardware, inflation tubes, gas regulators, near space experiments, circuit boards, etc in your hand luggage quite interesting? Joseph says, “It just adds to the adventure!”
It was interesting to see how much bigger the balloon was when launching it at 10,000 ft instead of at 100 ft in TX. The flight was flawless, and Joseph and his team got some great footage of Colorado’s 14,115ft Pikes Peak, the mountain that inspired Katharine Lee Bates to write America the Beautiful. Joseph used a competitor’s 600g balloon which burst at just over 86,000 ft. After the balloon burst, the Eagle parachuted down for a nice soft landing on an East Colorado ranch. The ranch owner was friendly and recovery was easy.
December 1st 2012 Flight Hardware Development Flight I
This was the first in a series of two flights to test out some new flight hardware. We made it over 97.000 ft using our 600g balloon before parachuting down for a nice soft landing in a swamp (actually more like a pond, but close enough) north of Houston. Swamps, trees, and the Gulf of Mexico present interesting challenges when launching in East Texas. Fortunately we equipped our Eagle with floats before the launch and were able to track the Eagle as it drifted in the swamp using the SPOT. Once the Eagle drifted close to dry ground the recovery party set off. Joseph drew the short stick and had to wade out up to his waist to retrieve the Eagle. After letting Joseph take a quick shower it was off to Outback Steak House to celebrate.
December 4th 2012 Flight Hardware Development Flight II
This was our second test flight in December. This time we launched South of Houston anticipating the jet stream would blow us northeast away from the Gulf of Mexico. Just to be safe we added floats to the Eagle. This time we made it over 101,000 ft using our 600g balloon. Our test flight called for a slow ascent rate and our Eagle was 60 miles east of the Texas/Louisiana border before the balloon burst. To our dismay we were back in a swamp. After a three-hour drive out to East Louisiana and a mile trek through knee-deep water, we had the Eagle in our hands again!
This was the same Eagle that flew in Massachusetts, Colorado, and the previous TX flight, and now in Louisiana. It logged more than 15 hrs of flight time over four states on four missions with cumulative altitude gain of over 380,000 ft (72 miles / 116 km) in less than three weeks! That’s got to be a new record!
December 15th 2012 Physics High School Class Launch
The physics high school class at one of the local high schools in Houston decided to launch a few payloads of their own with the assistance of High Altitude Science. Their primary objective was to try to get water to boil in the vacuum of near space without heating it, and to see if a florescent bulb would fluoresce from the more intense solar radiation in our Stratosphere. The launch was flawless and they were able to get their relatively heavy payloads to 105,184 ft using our 1200g balloon.
The payload landed in East Texas on a 10,000 acre hunting reserve. One of the hunters volunteered to escort Joseph in while the rest of the physics class and High Altitude Science Team waited at the entrance to the reserve. The Eagle was in a tree, but what was left of the balloon was on the ground allowing the Eagle to be pulled out of the tree using the flight tether.
So, what were the results of their experiments? Go to our Videos Page and watch the video titled Clear Creek High Takes Science to the Edge of Space.
Every launch is a new adventure! Recovery can be especially challenging, but never impossible. Out of all our launches, High Altitude Science has only ever lost one payload. The secret to our success is the SPOT II Satellite Tracker. Smart phone tracking solutions don't always have reception in remote swamps, ranches, and hunting reserves. The SPOT does. It uses a satellite network so you’re always guaranteed to know exactly where your payload lands. Happy flying and Happy New Year.If you have any questions about our launches or would like to share your own stories, please Contact Us.