OLHZN-15 was the fifteenth high altitude weather balloon flight for Overlook Horizon High Altitude Balloons. This flight launched on August 6, 2018 at 8:00am EDT (12:00 UTC) and featured our brave Space Lobster on-board as our second on-board mascot. Previously, our Space Referee launched on OLHZN-4. This flight used three Lightdow LD4000 Cameras to document the journey to the edge of space and back which will give us one view with the Space Lobster clearly in view, another view without the Space Lobster and a third view of the balloon.
Our brave little #SpaceLobster will be auctioned off at the conclusion of this flight to help raise money for our non-profit science education programs and high altitude balloon flights. If you’d like to take this little guy home, consider placing a bid on our Space Lobster Auction Page. Bidding starts now and lasts through August 31, 2018.
Flight Day Story
Building on the success we’ve had throughout all of 2018, OLHZN-15 was also a complete success from launch to landing. The early morning countdown procedures operated all perfectly and according to plan. Our liftoff occurred exactly at the intended moment of 8:00am EDT (12:00 UTC) after a beautiful sunrise and into clear blue skies with a tiny bit of haze. Our flight computers all operated perfectly throughout the entire flight.
We can’t really control this too much, but our weather balloon burst much earlier/lower than expected. This flight used a 1500g weather ballon, but should typically get us to an altitude between 108,000 FT. and 115,000 FT. Instead, this flight ascent terminated at 100,490 FT. which was surprising and slightly disappointing considering that both OLHZN-13 and OLHZN-14 used smaller balloons and still reached a higher altitude. The camera facing the balloon captured a pretty “normal” burst event, meaning that no obvious balloon defect appeared to be the cause of the early burst so it just is what it is for this flight.
The descent phase of this flight was also relatively normal, however, we did experience some extreme spinning shortly after the balloon burst. It is pretty typical for our payloads to spin a bit, especially during descent, however, the spinning observed on this flight was more than we’ve ever observed before and was intense! We expected that the lopsided weight of the #SpaceLobster likely contributed to this spin rate. Fortunately, the #SpaceLobster was well secured and was able to endure the entire descent, including the rough landing into a 80 ft. tall tree.
Recovering the payload out of the tree was certainly the hardest part of this flight. The forest canopy was quite thick which made it tough to see the payload or get a clear path for recovery tools and lines to try to free the payload. After several hours of attempts, it was an accidental light shake on the tree branch that ended up freeing the payload to our surprise. We were merely attempting to test the strength of a particular tree branch that was close to the payload and somehow it shook the payload enough to cause it to casually descend from the tree tops like as if it was being slowly lowered by hand. Unexpected and crazy, but we’ll take it!
Overall a great flight with great imagery! Our brave little #SpaceLobster is now being auctioned off to a new home. We’ll miss this brave little guy, but the proceeds from that auction will help raise funds for our non-profit science education programs and high altitude balloon flights. If you’d like to take this little guy home, consider placing a bid on our Space Lobster Auction Page. Bidding starts now and lasts through August 31, 2018.
The legend of the Space Lobster, or better known as the #SpaceLobster, was born on February 6, 2018 during the OLHZN Live Stream of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Demonstration Mission. It all started at the 2:45:09 mark during our live stream when an embarrassing streaming blunder occurred thanks to a Red Lobster commercial that interrupted the stream. From there the legend grew and turned into a nationally trending hashtag for the next 8 hours on Twitter while hundreds of people sent out memes, gifs, photoshopped images, etc. of our new legendary friend. This trending hashtag confused many, including the national media, that thought the #SpaceLobster phenomenon was some sort of officially unofficial naming scheme for the SpaceX Tesla Roadster launched onboard the Falcon Heavy rocket. The ABC News Press Conference live stream after the launch was overwhelmed with thousands of #SpaceLobster comments which lead to severe #FOMO (fear of missing out) for those that were not part of the #SpaceLobster inner circle which further spread the legend of our friend. So, what started as a blunder, is now part of our history forever. Even if you missed it live, you can still join the inner circle and send over a friendly #SpaceLobster comment to us @OLHZN on Twitter or during one of our SpaceX Falcon Heavy (or Falcon 9) live streams on YouTube. Never forget the #SpaceLobster and continue sharing the legend. Only we (meaning you too!) will know the true meaning and history behind the legendary #SpaceLobster.
The maximum altitude achieved for this flight was 100,490 FT. (30,629 m) MSL which occurred 94 minutes into the flight at 9:34:40am EDT (13:34:40 UTC).
This payload landed 6.84 mi. (11.01 km) downrange from the launch site. The final landing occurred 2 hours, 4 minutes & 51 seconds after launch at 42.896149, -77.138664 at an altitude of 891 FT. (271 m)
The minimum recorded temperature was -58 °F (-50 °C) which occurred at an altitude of 42,875 FT. (13,068 m)
The maximum recorded temperature was 81 °F (27 °C) which occurred at an altitude of 833 FT. (254 m)
The maximum recorded horizontal ground speed was 49 mph (78 km/h) which occurred at an altitude of 96,507 FT. (29,415 m)
The fastest vertical free-fall speed achieved after balloon burst was recorded at 245 mph (395 km/h). This measurement occurred at an altitude of 96,485 FT. (29,409 m) shortly after the balloon burst event at 100,490 FT. (30,629 m) MSL
This flight will again feature three Lightdow LD4000 Cameras and will be capturing our brave Space Lobster as it journeys to the edge of space and back. We’ll be also further testing our new landing prediction software after previous successful flights with that platform.
This flight will also feature our largest balloon in our inventory. At 1500g, this should send our brave Space Lobster to an altitude of around 110,000 ft.
Flight Path Prediction
The map below shows our predicted (purple) flight path vs. our actual (orange) flight path.
Launch Time: August 6, 2018 at 8:00:02am EDT (12:00:02 UTC)
Launch Location: 42.908607, -77.272659 at 833 FT. (254 m)
Ascent Rate: 1,053fpm (5.35 m/s)
Burst Altitude: 100,490 FT. (30,629 m) MSL
Time to Burst: 94 minutes
Target Helium Volume: 124.9 cu ft.
Payload Mass: 1770g (3.90 lbs)
Target Neck Positive Lift: 1124g
Descent Time: 30 minutes
Descent Rate: 1,156fpm (5.87 m/s)
Landing Location: 42.896149, -77.138664 at 891 FT. (271 m)
Downrange Landing Distance: 6.84 mi. (11.01 km)
Total Flight Time: 2 hours, 4 minutes & 51 seconds