HABworx is our balloon group. We usually take payloads to the stratosphere, often to over 30 km altitude. UpLift 42 was a heavy payload for a light balloon (Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority designation). It was close to 4 kg and that will burst at a lower altitude. This flight made 28.5 km. The date was 14 Feb 2020. Release time was 10:40 am EDST
HABworx stands for High Altitude Balloon Workshop. We can make all sorts of unusual systems to suit your needs.
We released this payload from the central part of the state (New South Wales) 150 km north of the Victorian boarder. The payload was made up of 2 recorders, each with microphones, and two cameras, one was a 360 degree camera. We used our special filling kit which means that it only takes a single person to hold the balloon and measure the lift (below)
In the background (above) the payload is rigged on a special stand. The mass is measured before the fill. The balloon is filled with the same amount of helium to provide lift to float the payload and then extra to determine the rate of climb. The mass of the payload was 3.6 kg and the additional lift was determined to be 0.7 kg. A total lift of 4.3 kg plus enough gas to neutralise the balloon mass of 1.5 kg meant that we filled the balloon to nearly 6 cubic metres of Helium. Yes, its that simple, 1 cubic metre of helium is about 1 kg of lift.
The balloon fill tube is sealed with a layer of Vaseline in the screw cap to stop any leaks. We use heavy duty gloves to prevent rope burn or deep cuts from the brick layers cord that we use. The flight was to record sounds in the stratosphere for research. It is very new research and the outcome could also see a way of detecting spy aircraft as they overfly an area. Further flights might be able to do more work in this area.
Above, the balloon is away and the parachute can be seem against the dark blue sky and the payload is highlighted in front of the cloud, The distance from the balloon to payload is 20 metres.
We had 2 types of trackers for diversity and backup. One was linked directly to satellite and displayed on the Internet. The other was by Amateur radio APRS and is both a direct link via radio in the car and also it is displayed on the Internet. The landing site is displayed below.
The fun part is the race to the landing site. We had to stop the car and enter the coordinates into a phone seen in the video below.
After the recovery was complete there was just one tradition to complete and that is the sharing some ginger beer. This is the 42nd time that we have launched a payload and the 42nd time we have had the fun of recovery and ginger beer. Alcohol is not allowed on our trips. There are hours of driving ahead to return home.
If you have a payload or wish that we test a cubesat, sensors or equivalent, contact us. We can qualify you payload for close to space conditions. If it is not too heavy we can get it to around 33.3 km or a third the way to space.
Above: one very happy customer and two of the ThunderStruck team.