Revenge Mission Summary

Summary

After we failed to recover Furiosity. I was offered to build and launch anothere capsule that we called “Revenge”. The sponsor had a really short deadline. I needed to make it happen in less than two weeks.

Simpler, the capsule contained 3 trackers, 2 cameras and one experiment. Jarrod Poston from Valley Christian High School gave us another experiment to fly and helped us during the launch.

The capsule was launched from Livermore, CA and reached an altitude of almost 103,000ft before landing 30 miles north. Though it didn’t follow the predicted route, the flight went by the book. We retrieved the capsule almost immediately.

While previous flights had taken weeks of preparation; Revenge was built, launched and recovered within 24 hours.

Actual flightpath

Maximum altitude reached

Hardware

Cameras Canon PowerShot SD1200IS + 4Gb SD Card (photo script w/CHDK)
GoPro2 + Battery BackPack + 32Gb SD Card (Class 10)
Power Lithium Ion Polymer Battery & Energyzer Lithim ultimate batteries
Trackers Byonics Micro-Trak RTG + Byonics GPS4
Spot Messenger
Motorola  i296
Parachute 6ft Parachute

Flight Data

Launch Date 5/13/2012
Launch Point 37.235842,-122.416068 near Robertson Park, CA
Retrieval Date 5/13/2012
Landing Point 38.133379,-121.743536 near Rio Vista, CA
Balloon Lift ~48000g
Total weight ~4.0 lbs
Highest Altitude 102,959ft (31,382m)
Distance traveled ~32miles (52km)
Flight Duration 2h06min (Ascent took 1:27 hour)
Average ascent rate 1183ft/min
Average descent rate 2609ft/min
Landing speed 15 mph

The ascent rate is a bit too fast. It should be about 1000ft/min.
Two possible reasons for that:
-We put about 4800g of lift: 2000g (Capsule) + 1600g (balloon) + 1200g (free lift)
But it’s hard to gauge, we may have simply added too much helium.

-When we spread the balloon before inflating it, it seemed smaller than the previous 1600g we used. If so, a 1500g or 1200g would have required a lot less helium.

Sensor data

The only sensor data retrieved was sent by radio during the flight. (Time is in UTC)

The capsule was insulated with a 1inch Styrofoam wall. But due to the cameras access holes, the wall was thinner on many parts of the capsule. The temperatures recorded inside Revenge were colder than inside Furiosity.

Pictures

Both cameras were still running when we found the capsule.

Conclusions

  • Attaching the parachute to the top of the capsule and not the sides made it a lot more stable.
  • Attaching the parachute directly to the balloon is not the way to go. The weather balloon remains were found completely wrapped around the parachute lines.
  • A simple 4400mA Lithium Ion Polymer Battery powered the GoPro video camera through the 2h flight without a hitch. The camera’s battery was still at 70% when found.
  • Building a high altitude capsule and launching it within one weekend has successfully been demonstrated!

Next Mission: “Revenge” set to launch on May 13th

I was unexpectedly approached by someone who offered to sponsor another launch.
His only requirement was to launch it by May 13th. I accepted the challenge!

Because of the very short deadline, the high altitude capsule will have a simple design and will re-use flight proven technologies. However this opportunity gives the students who worked on Furiosity another shot at flying their experiments.

I am working hard to demonstrate how to build and launch a “Near Space” balloon from scratch within 2 weeks. Launch is scheduled for this weekend!

T-5 Talk at SpaceUP SF about “Near Space” Balloons

I went to SpaceUP San Francisco 2012 and gave a T-5 talk about “Near Space” balloons.

T minus 5 is a series of short talks in the Ignite format. Each speaker gets 5 minutes to talk, with 20 slides that rotate automatically every 15 seconds. It’s a fun format that’s more like karaoke than giving a presentation. Forgive my nervousness.

A HQ version can be found here.