Purpose of the flight and payload description

This was a flight qualification test of the new A34.43-3 balloon design with a fully loaded payload of 8,000 pounds.

Part of the payload was a piggyback instrument, BalloonSat, being flown for New Mexico State University (NMSU). The BalloonSat instrument is a set of photomultiplier detectors to measure the earth's background radiation at 450-nm. It will characterize that background for further cosmic ray studies. The BalloonSat configuration will also provide a test of the engineering concepts for a university nanosatellite payload in a near-space environment. BalloonSat was developed by NMSU under a US Air Force program.

Details of the balloon flight

Balloon launched on: 5/31/2008 at 14:52
Launch site: Scientific Flight Balloon Facility, Fort Sumner, (NM), US  
Balloon launched by: Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon Aerostar - 34.430.000 ft3 - (0.8 mil - Stratofilm)
Balloon serial number: W 34.43-H-1
Flight identification number: 585NT
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 6/1/2008 at 20:08
Balloon flight duration (F: time at float only, otherwise total flight time in d:days / h:hours or m:minutes - ): 30 h 4 min
Landing site: 14 Nautic Miles NW of Winslow, Arizona, US

The balloon was launched by dynamic method with assistance of launch vehicle -Big Bill- on May 31 at 14:52 utc. The ascent to float was uneventful. After a flight mainly in a westward path the mission was terminated on June 1 at 20:08 utc. The payload landed 14 Nautic Miles NW of Winslow, Arizona. Total flight time was 30 hours and 4 minutes.

This flight was an operations and science success. All pre-flight minimum requirements for both the primary and piggyback experiments were exceeded. This was an excellent launch in great weather conditions. The balloon performance was excellent. The ascent profile into float, the overnight float, the post-diurnal cycle recovery, and the termination were within anticipated limits. The NMSU science group has reported excellent data collection, and instrument performance for the BalloonSat. A refined heavy lift Rip Stitch system employed during the termination performed satisfactorily.

External references

Images of the mission

Thunderbird payload carrier attached to Big Bill launch vehicle and positioned for launch (Image Courtesy: Steve Horan) A34 Balloon fully inflated and ready for launch (Image Courtesy: Steve Horan) A34 balloon ascending (Image Courtesy: Steve Horan) Impressive image of Fort Sumner taken at 15:09 UTC from an altitude of 27.605 ft. (Image Courtesy: Steve Horan) View of South of Albuquerque, NM taken at 23:17 UTC from an altitude of 112.838 ft. (Image Courtesy: Steve Horan)

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