Launch I



6th of January, 2006. For this particular project that was obviously going to be in public space, I had arranged a launch team to lend me a hand.

Unfortunately, the night before, I had contacted the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) regarding the balloon launch. They granted me a maximum flying height of 100m AGL (above ground level). You may visit CASA's website for more information on legal balloon heights in Australia. Better to be safe than sorry!

By 10am, the launch crew were ready, and we promptly started trying to figure out how on earth the helium cylinder worked.

By the way, that looks like a big balloon...

Finally we figured out that you actually had to twist the stupid nozzle to pump the helium out. Clearly, we have not attended any kids parties for too long.

Here is the balloon being inflated, with the rest of the enthusiastic launch crew out of sight for fear of injury resulting from balloon explosion.

Measuring the diameter of the balloon to make sure we were on the right track...

Turns out that my number crunching had been exact, and the full tank of helium pumped the balloon up to exactly the size required.

Attaching the payload (with camera) onto the neck of the balloon. One thing we noticed here was the low lift energy of the balloon - it appeared that I had not included a sufficient amount of weight assigned for balloon lift only. So instead of raising the payload quickly off the ground, it hovered around like some kind of UFO.
Regardless of previous observation... The launch crew ready to set the big pink balloon free into the air!

And woohooo, its flying! For a few seconds anyway...

Notice the colour of the clouds at this point in time. Possibly the worst sign of things to come. Isn't it just frustrating when the weather forecast is simply wrong?

Here the balloon was rising...

Seconds later it fell and became tangled in the tree.. Not only did the string tangle so badly that we couldnt even retrieve the poor balloon, but it started raining. Oh dear.

Talk about friggin bad luck. And, in hindsight, a serious lack of preparation :)

Well, we gotta be optimistic about things. The launch crew gives a 'that's gold' handsign to keep up the spirits.

We do a little better in Launch II, so check that out.




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