Purpose of the flight and payload description

The experiment was an eight element telescope designed to measure the electron spectrum from 2 Mev to 10 BeV, the positron spectrum from 2-50 Mev (using the 0.5 Mev anihillation line), as well as the spectrum of protons, deutrons, He3 and He4. The telescope has a geometrical factor of about 60 cm2. It included a gas Cerenkov detector, a plastic total E counter, a NaI total E counter, a Pb glass Cerenkov total E counter, as well as four scintillation counters to measure the particle's de/dx.

Details of the balloon flight

Balloon launched on: 7/8/1972 at 1:50 utc
Launch site: Fort Churchill Airport, Manitoba, Canada  
Balloon launched by: Raven Industries Inc.
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon Winzen Stratofilm 10.575.000 cuft - Natural Shape (0.7 mils) - Cap (0.7 Mils.)
Balloon serial number: SF 305.86-070-NSC-20 SN: 413
Flight identification number: Raven Nº 1326
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 7/8/1972
Landing site: E of Ft. Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
Campaign: SKYHOOK 72  
Payload weight: 667 lbs
Overall weight: 2713 lbs

The balloon was attempted to launch on July 8, 1972 from Ft. Churchill Airport in Manitoba, Canada. While surface winds during launch operations were of reasonable velocities, the direction was quite variable. Layout was made on the northeast side of the ramp. Inflation and checkout proceeded normally. Prior to release, the wind shifted 90º. As the balloon was released, the bubble moved swiftly to one side making it impossible for the launch truck to position the gondola directly under it. The launch truck moved slowly forward to prevent the balloon from pulling off the gondola. Before the launch truck could turn away from the balloon, the gondola was pulled off. The angle was too low to lift the gondola, and it fell to the ground striking obstructions near the edge of the runway. At the moment of impact the termination squibs fired.

The balloon ascended into the clouds and was no longer visible. Churchill radar was alerted and the Office of Naval Research C-47 was sent aloft. Moments later, the balloon was spotted on the ground east of Churchill. The New Hampshire gondola sustained serious damage on the top portion. Battery packs secured to the bottom had been dislodged and shorted causing an electrical fire which was quickly extinguished with a dry powder type extinguisher.

Images of the mission

The gondola after crashing near the launch site.        

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