Launching, tracking and flying high altitude weather balloons in the Rochester, NY area
OLHZN-9 :: Helios 2017-08-17T20:03:47+00:00

About OLHZN-9 :: Helios

OLHZN-9 is the ninth planned high altitude weather balloon flight for Overlook Horizon High Altitude Balloons.  This flight is scheduled for August 21, 2017 and is expected to launch at 1:10pm ET (17:10 UTC) during the total solar eclipse in the United States. The focus of this flight will be to capture video footage of the solar eclipse as well as to solidify our radio tracking systems to ensure that our repairs we made on OLHZN-8 are still working well. We will also be measuring temperature again on this flight and looking specifically at temperature deviations that may be measurable as the eclipse is occurring.  This flight will again use three Lightdow LD4000 Cameras including one upwards facing camera recording the balloon and the solar eclipse.

The launch location for this flight will be determined no later than 6 to 24 hours prior to the flight.  This is quite unusual for us, but this flight planning is backwards from our normal procedures.  Usually, we have a location in mind and we wait to choose an appropriate date and time that will ensure a safe and acceptable landing zone. This flight, however, coincides with the solar eclipse happening on August 21st, so the date and time are fixed, but we must still ensure a safe landing zone.  In order to accomplish this, we’ll be adjusting and evaluating our launch location every 6 hours as new GFS prediction models are published to determine a launch location that will lead us to a safe and acceptable landing zone.

Live Broadcast

If our launch location does not have enough mobile bandwidth to support YouTube and Facebook Live at the same time, we may be live on Facebook only. If so, you can view our Facebook Live broadcast here.

Launch location: TBD – Canandaigua Area Expected

See the “Latest Update” below for details.
Check back daily for the latest update.

Important Info

This flight will again feature three Lightdow LD4000 Cameras including one as an upwards facing balloon camera to try to capture the balloon burst event and also capture the solar eclipse as it’s happening. We’ve adjusted our landing alarm to resolve our only electronic issue from our nearly perfect last flight, OLHZN-8. The new landing alarm will utilize our anomaly alarm assembly instead of our previous landing alarm.  The previous alarm will still be in use for startup and boot sequence identifications, but will no longer be used during landing.

This flight will also feature a larger 1500g balloon – our largest balloon yet!  At 1500g in size, this balloon should burst at around 32 feet in diameter which should certainly put us at an altitude well over 100,000 ft. with our early predictions indicating an expected maximum altitude of 112,000 ft. to 115,000 ft.

The main focus of this flight will be to try to capture the solar eclipse from the air as it’s happening.  We’ll be measuring possible temperature deviations caused by the eclipse, have a view of the sun as the eclipse is happening and a view of the ground and the casted shadows happening all during the event.  We may need to change launch locations drastically to ensure a safe landing.  If you’ll be watching the solar eclipse from your location, be sure to use Eclipse Glasses that are officially certified by both CE and ISO for safe viewing.

Local Solar Eclipse View

Flight Prediction

OLHZN-9 Weather Balloon Flight Prediction #4

Latest Update 8/17

We’re really starting to see some consistency in our flight path predictions, but they are starting to trend into a bit of a risky area.  The major hazard that we’re watching at this time is a water landing on Cayuga Lake.  Our flight paths are putting us a little too close to the lake for comfort, but technically most (but not all) of them are showing a landing east of the lake.  We still expect some variations that may impact the launch site.  The launch sites we’re looking at now are Canandaigua, Farmington or Shortsville.  This updated flight prediction would allow for a launch at Canandaigua Academy as we usually do, but the predicted landing is just 3.5 miles east of the lake.  Our flight path predictions can easily be off by 5 miles on a regular basis, but sometimes it can even be as much as 15 miles so this landing site makes us a little nervous. There is still time for many changes between now and launch day as the forecast reliability increases.  We’re still hopeful that we can launch at our usual site at Canandaigua Academy.  Launch time surface weather conditions looks pretty solid with mostly sunny skies and wind gusts at a maximum of 8mph.  Our Go/No-Go parameters will be pretty wide for this flight which may lead to a less-than-ideal launch conditions or landing area, but we’re going to try hard to make sure we can launch during the eclipse and may still need to change launch locations to ensure we can land somewhere acceptable. Check back daily after 1pm ET for the updated flight path prediction and launch site location.

In the News

Technical Specifications

  • Launch Time:  August 21, 2017 at 1:10pm ET (17:10 UTC)

  • Expected Launch Location: TBD based on wind forecast 6 to 24 hours prior to flight.

  • Target Ascent Rate: 4.35 m/s

  • Target Burst Altitude: 112,000 ft.

  • Expected Time to Burst: 131 minutes

  • Target Helium Volume: 137.0 cu ft.

  • Payload Mass: 1650g (3.63 lbs)

  • Target Neck Positive Lift: 868g

  • Expected Landing Speed: 6 m/s

  • Expected Descent Time: 38 minutes

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