Purpose of the flight and payload description
The objective of the flight was to test a new kind of balloon manufactured by Viron Division of Geophysics Corporation of America with a theoretical maximum volume of 11.8 million cubic feet, which at the time was the largest ever launched. The mission goal was to assess the adequacy of the balloon's structural design and to study the ballasting characteristics of high-altitude, heavy-payload balloon systems.
The operation was planned, managed and launched by personnel of the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories. The balloon was launched from Chico, California, at 7:24 PST on 24 October 1961. After crossing the country, it was brought down by radio command 51 hours and 10 minutes later at a point approximately 200 miles east of Boston, Massachusetts.
The 2,000-pound flight payload consisted of command and control instrumentation, telemetering equipment, an upward-looking motion picture camera to study balloon deployment, and fine steel dust for ballast to offset the decreased lifting power of the gas as it cooled at sunset.
Details of the balloon flight
Balloon launched on: 10/24/1961
Launch site: Chico Municipal Airport, California, US
Balloon launched by: Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories (AFCRL)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon Viron Division - 12.000.000 ft3
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 10/26/1961
Balloon flight duration (F: time at float only, otherwise total flight time in d:days / h:hours or m:minutes - ): 51 h 10 m
Landing site: Lost over the Atlantic Ocean in a point 200 miles E of Boston, US
Payload weight: 2000 pounds
Analysis of the flight profile indicated that there was no problem with gas leakage, a significant achievement considering that the surface area of the balloon was nearly seven acres and the thickness of the balloon wall was only a thousandth of an inch. During the flight tracking stations of the FCC HF/DF network monitored the telemetering frequency, obtaining position fixes and recording the coded information from the balloon system sensing elements.