Purpose of the flight and payload description
The EARTHWINDS project were a series of balloon missions performed along the 90's decade trying to achieve a world circumnavigation using the jet stream winds by aeronaut Larry Newman.
The balloon system used in the project was based in the Sky Anchor concept originally developed at Texas A&M University in middle 70's for the balloon program of the NASA which was researching a long duration flight system.
The system consisted of two balloons, an upper lifting balloon about 200 feet high filled with 1.1 million cubic feet of helium, and a 100-foot-diameter anchor balloon filled with compressed air suspended beneath the pressurized crew capsule. By pumping additional air into the anchor balloon the crew made it heavier, preventing the balloon from rising high enough to necessitate the release of helium. By releasing air from the anchor the balloon was lightened. This feature allowed the balloon to avoid the need of using conventional sand ballast, which would be exhausted after a few days.
Details of the balloon flight
Balloon launched on: 1/12/1994
Launch site: Reno Stead Airfield, Nevada, US
Balloon launched by:
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon Anchor Balloon - 31 150 m3 He / 15 575 m3 air.
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 1/??/1994
Landing site: In Tranquility, California, US
This was the third of the five attempts made at the circumnavigation in the early 1990s. Althought the balloon makes it out of Nevada, hours later, with a frozen valve in the ballast balloon, the team is forced to abort their flight and land near Fresno, California.