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White Star SPITBall-1 Flight Initial Recap


Balloon, vent valve and cutdown device
Looking up in flight at balloon, vent valve and cutdown device

Hi All, the flight of the SuperPressure Initiated Termination Balloon Flight 1 was successful as far as we can tell so far.  We don't know for sure because we haven't gotten the SD cards that hold the video and science data on them.  Technical results as they come in over the next week will be posted on our wiki site, here.

With just skeleton assembly, launch and mission control crews preparations for this flight had to be less organized than we've done in the past for SpeedBall flight attempts.  We allowed for that by targeting an early launch time, with plenty of daylight left for schedule slip.

The massive zero pressure balloon was launched from SpacePort Indiana around 3:30 PM EST, by having the payload support crew run with the wind as soon as they released the balloon, allowing the balloon to rise straight up as it lifted each payload.

The balloon landed about 1.5 hours later on a family's home in Miamisburg OH and was recovered shortly after.  The family made a youtube video of the balloon on the house!

Thanks to all who helped!   Some science observations follow.  The three pics above were emailed to us by the recovery crew in Ohio.   More pics available on Flickr here.

Science objectives and observations thus far (not final yet):

Rotation rate of balloon envelope: Observed a rate of ~10 revolutions per minute in the first 30 seconds of flight before cloud entry.  This may not be solely due to the asymmetric balloon shape, as the inversion rope was seen to have been bearing a part of the load in the flight videos.  It should have been loose and not bearing load.  Bearing the load would cause it to tip the balloon over slightly, and may exaggerate the aerodynamic asymmetry.  This unplanned rope tension may have invalidated the experiment.  Likely caused by simple miscalculation of required length.

Cutdown inversion method performance: The cutdown was set to a 61 minute timer.  All that is really known about the performance is that the cutdown did fire as designed, as seen in the recovery video.  It also did not simply rip the top off the balloon, which was one theorized possibility.  The action of the balloon inversion is unknown until we get the onboard video.

Vent valve performance: The performance of the vent can't be determined until we see how the balloon inverted from the video.  The helium did not completely empty from the balloon, as seen in the recovery videro but that may not be because of vent failure.

Burst pressure measurement: Unknown until we get the data cards back.  Burst appeared to occur just a few minutes before cutdown, based on radio telemetry of altitude, but that was not clear.

Altitude vs. Time Chart Small with Climb Rate Color


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