Description of the payload
The flight was to test the Mars science lander drogue parachute extraction system and determine drag and performance characteristics of the new parachute design.
Details of the balloon flight and scientific outcome
Launch site: Scientific Flight Balloon Facility, Fort Sumner, (NM), US
Balloon launched by: National Scientific Balloon Facility (NSBF)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon Winzen - 11.820.000 cuft (0.8 mil) - SF3-11.82-.8/.8-NA
Balloon serial number: W11.82-1E-30
Flight identification number: 531N
Payload weight: 2175 lbs
Overall weight: 2529 lbs
The balloon was launched using the dynamic method assited by launch vehicle at 14:23 utc on September 11th.
After an initial ascent phase the float altitude of 119.700 feet was achieved and the balloon followed a course due to south. A few minutes after, at 16:23 utc the payload was jettisoned in free fall as planned. It touched ground at 16:40 utc 15 nm south of Fort Sumner, NM at coordinates 34º 14.6 North / 104º 10.4 West. After the impact the payload remained upright and suffered no harm.
This was the second flight in a series of three. The main parachute experienced deployment problems resulting in a degraded descent profile.
Nevertheless, after the payload was returned to Fort Sumner, a physical examination indicates an upright landing, with the crush pad absorbing nearly all of the shock. The only significant visible damage was to the sacrificial plywood drag plate.
All onboard electronic systems apparently remain operational. Consequently, the payload condition was considered excellent.
External references and bibliographical sources