Purpose of the flight and payload description

INFOCµS is a balloon-borne instrument incorporating recent breakthroughs in focusing optics and detectors to achieve order of magnitude improvements in both hard X-ray sensitivity and imaging resolution, with high resolution spectroscopy. This instrument is a pioneering effort to extend into the hard X-ray energy range the power of focusing optics that has revolutionized X-ray astronomy with missions like ROSAT and ASCA.

The telescope is conical approximation of Wolter-I optics with 8m focal length and 40cm diameter. It employed 255 nested ultra-thin reflector pairs, or supermirrors that reflected hard X-rays by Bragg reflection at incidence angles larger than the critical angle of total external reflection.

Details of the balloon flight

Balloon launched on: 9/16/2004 at 15:03 utc
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 - 39.570.000 cuft (0.8 mil) - SF3-39.57-.8/.8/.8-NHR
Balloon serial number: W39.57-2-43
Flight identification number: 532N
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 9/17/2004 at 18:06 utc
Balloon flight duration (F: time at float only, otherwise total flight time in d:days / h:hours or m:minutes - ): 27 h 47 m
Landing site: 22 miles SW of Wickenburg, Arizona, US
Payload weight: 4054 lbs
Overall weight: 5935 lbs

The balloon was launched at 15:03 utc on September 16th using the dynamic method assisted by a launch vehicle.

Following a nominal ascent phase, the balloon reached a float altitude of 128.400 feet and started a flight course due wet as can be seen in the map at left (click to enlarge). During the rest of the day and the night, the balloon's course was the same with a slight southerly desviation.

The next day, at 18:06 utc, meanwhile the balloon was flying over Arizona, the separation command was transmited and the flight was terminated. The payload landed at 18:50 utc 22 nm southwest of Wickenburg at coordinates 33º 5 1.7 North / 113º 15.9 West.

At landing the parachute failed to separate from the payload wich was dragged across the land sustaining moderate damage.

External references

Images of the mission


After running StratoCat in an "advertising free" basis for 16 years, I've joined "Ko-Fi" to get funding for the research I do. If you find this website interesting or useful, you can help me to keep it up and running.