Purpose of the flight and payload description


Details of the balloon flight

Balloon launched on: 5/3/1973
Launch site: Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility, Palestine, Texas, US  
Balloon launched by: National Scientific Balloon Facility (NSBF)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon Winzen - 569.455 m3 (12.70 microns - Cap. 22.86 microns Stratofilm)
Flight identification number: 744P
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 5/3/1973
Balloon flight duration (F: time at float only, otherwise total flight time in d:days / h:hours or m:minutes - ): F 12 h 30 m
Landing site: Payload sunk in the Gulf of Mexico. Found two weeks later by a fishing boat.
Payload weight: 675 kgs

The balloon was launched from the National Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine, Texas on May 3, 1973. The flight transcurred without incident until the moment of termination when the payload impacted in the Gulf of Mexico. This occurred due to errors involving the operation of the radio direction finding equipment and the fact that the primary Omega tracking system was inoperative. By the time the error was corrected the balloon system was over the Gulf of Mexico where it floated for approximately 8 hours. It was terminated automatically by the safety timer approximately 65 miles east of Port O'Connor, Texas. An attempt by an U.S. Coast Guard cutter to rescue the package failed when it was unable to reach the impact site before the package sank. A Coast Guard aircraft reported the package remained afloat for only seven minutes. Attempts to recover the package were made with a trawler; however, they proved unsuccessful.

On 17 May a fisherman from Port Isabel, Texas discovered the package 21 miles northeast of Port Isabel. The parachute and one NSBF electronics box were missing. Upon investigation, the package appeared in reasonable condition. The scientific data, stored on film in an on-board camera was retrieved. Publishable data was subsequently obtained.

Postal cover issued on launch day commemorating the flight

External references

If you consider this website interesting or useful, you can help me to keep it up and running with a small donation to cover the operational costs. Just the equivalent of the price of a cup of coffee helps a lot.