Launching, tracking and flying high altitude weather balloons in the Rochester, NY area
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OLHZN-6 :: Shredder 2017-05-25T11:27:06+00:00

About OLHZN-6 :: Shredder

Result:  Success!! 91,462 FT.

OLHZN-6 was the sixth high altitude weather balloon flight for Overlook Horizon High Altitude Balloons.  This flight launched on May 20, 2017 at 1255pm ET (16:55 UTC) from Canandaigua Academy.  This flight featured our first upward facing (balloon facing) camera that was intended to record the moment of the balloon burst in slow motion as well as the parachute performance during the descent phase.  Unfortunately, this camera stopped operating approximately 75 minutes into the flight and did not capture the balloon burst event.  This upwards facing camera was shooting video in 1080p at 60fps utilizing our new Lightdow LD-V3 Action Camera.  We also still included two onboard side cameras that were comprised of our flight-proven Lightdow LD4000 Action Cameras. These cameras captured the entire flight.  This flight was also intended to feature a much larger 1200g balloon that would have almost certainly push us over 100,000 feet in altitude.  Unfortunately, during the launch preparations, a small hole was discovered in this balloon and we were forced to switch to our smaller 800g balloon instead.

The Flight Day Story

OLHZN-6 started out great and ended well too, but had some hiccups along the way.  IT was a beautiful clear day and would b one that would allow us to watch the balloon ascend for quite some time after launch.  During setup, items were progressing on time and normally with no major issues.  Our first minor issue occurred just prior to the start of the live broadcast when we began having severly low mobile bandwidth to power our broadcast.  Sadly, we had to abandon the YouTube broadcast and we were only live on Facebook for this launch.

As preparations continued, the original 1200g balloon was filled in a normal timeframe, however, the countdown clock was held at T- 40:03 when a small hole was discovered in the balloon.  We quickly assessed how to proceed and decided to deflate this balloon and switch to an 800g backup balloon that would provide a lower altitude, but still hit roughly the same landing zone.  This cause a delay of 55 minutes.

The countdown then proceeded normally with 2 other brief holds at T- 20:00 while we adjust the payload backup GPS and again at T- 4:54 when we had to switch radio antennas.  Launch occurred at exactly 12:55:30pm ET (16:55:30 UTC).

Shortly after launch, we experienced at “close” flyby from Southwest Airlines flight #4621 enroute from Providence, RI (PVD) to Chicago, IL (MDW).  SWA4621 was flying at 38,025 ft. and passed nearly directly over the top of our flight which was flying around 20,000 ft. at the time.  Another, even closer flyby occurred with Qatar Airways Flight #713 enroute from Qatar (DOH) to Houston, TX (IAH).  QR713 was flying at 36,000 ft. and passed nearly directly under our payload which was flying around 41,000 ft. at the time.

The balloon burst at 2:26:50pm ET (18:26:50 UTC) over Poplar Ridge, NY and descended for 35 minutes with a landing in Summer Hill, NY.  When we first arrived on site, we had a hard time locating the payload, but we found out that the landowner located the payload and brought it inside their house.  We were able to quickly connect with the landowner and retrieve the payload and head home.

Flight Details

Launch Broadcast

Important Info

This flight will feature our first upwards/balloon facing camera which will be recording at 60 frames per second to record the weather balloon burst event in slow motion!  Some minor software modifications have been made to address a power cycle issue that occurred at the very end of OLHZN-5 and should allow the landing alarms to proceed normally, even if a power cycle event occurs.  We’ve also adding additional logging to our data set to log and save the exact ascent and descent rates as well as a few other onboard system status messages that we would like to see.

This flight will focus heavily on quality photography so we’ll be waiting for a relatively clear day to get the best photos and videos possible!

This flight will feature a larger 1200g balloon.  This will result in a longer flight time of around 2 hours and 55 minutes.  We expect to reach an altitude of around 108,500 feet.

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Flight Predictions

OLHZN-6 Weather Balloon Flight Prediction #7

With less than 24 hours until launch time, the flight prediction has shifted back north of Cortland in the Homer, NY area.  This is a bit surprising since the last 3 days have been consistently placed southwest of Cortland, however, this landing zone is still acceptable.  Interestingly, this landing area is nearly the exact area we suspect our missing OLHZN-1 flight may be, so maybe we’ll recover two flights!  It’s doubtful, but wouldn’t that be amazing?!  We’re carefully watching the wind patterns to ensure we stay away from landing in the numerous NY State Forests that surround this area.  The new landing area threatens to land in the Summer Hill State Forest.  This is going to be tricky to avoid and there may not be much we can do to avoid it. Surface weather predictions for launch time look good so far with 6 to 10 mph winds and broken cloud cover.  We’ll be using an anemometer for this launch to monitor wind conditions during launch preparation.  We’ll also be utilizing a wind block for this launch to try to shield the balloon filling procedures from wind effects to avoid an under-inflated balloon like we experience on OLHZN-5.

Technical Specifications

  • Launch Time:  May 20, 2017 at 12:55pm EDT (16:55 UTC)

  • Ascent Rate: 5.03 m/s (Target: 4.35 m/s)

  • Burst Altitude: 91,462 (Expected based on ascent rate: 91,902 ft.)

  • Time to Burst: 91 minutes (Expected: 93 minutes)

  • Helium Volume: 132.3 cu ft. (Target: 114.1 cu. ft)

  • Payload Mass: 1685g (3.71 lbs)

  • Neck Positive Lift: 1360g (Target: 831g)

  • Landing Speed: 6.03 m/s (Target: 5.23 m/s)

  • Expected Descent Time: 37 minutes

  • Landing Location: 42.64032, -76.29953

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