Jake VI – Successful Test of Cutdown

I’m happy to announce that we had a major success last weekend.  My friend launched a weather balloon carrying a GPS and an Arduino computer programmed to cut the cable on the balloon at 20,000 m (~66,000 ft).  This launch, designated Jake 6, carried out its mission perfectly.  The payload separated from the balloon 20 kilometres above the snow-covered Minnesota landscape, then parachuted down for a safe landing in a tree.  The descent was a little scary as we watched our payload parallel, then cross the Mississippi River!  We knew it was about to land, and it would have been a very poor ending to the day to have it splash down in the brutally cold water.

Click here for a video of the flight!  A good photo taken from the air is below:


What went right:

-Successful cutdown at 20 kilometers.

-Detailed GPS data of the flight

What went wrong:

-The GPS did not get a fix until about 10 kilometers above the ground, which means we lost some data on the ascent

-The camera was accidentally programmed to take RAW format images, which means it ran out of memory at around 10 kilometres.  Still got some cool pics though!

-Our faithful parachute had to be left behind in the tree, despite my friend’s valiant recovery of the payload box