The day finally arrived for our big launch! The students were excited and nervous to launch the balloon with hopes that all the preparations had paid off.
The night before the launch, I filed a NOTAM (Notice to Airman) using the instructions provided in the handbook. You can find some more details here. When I was transferred to the appropriate air traffic control, it was an interesting conversation. He had never filed one for a HAB before, and he was not sure it was legal. However, their job is just to file the notice, and he informed me that I will be getting a call from Washington DC if anything looked suspicious. (I never got a call)
On launch day, at 8:30 AM, after delicious breakfast tacos, the students and the high school film crew, drove to the launch site. We had a welcome party waiting at the park including teachers, school staff, media, and a local celebrity! Bill Taylor, weatherman of KENS5, brought his daughter to witness the launch and cheer us on. He even documented the event on his Facebook page, which garnered almost 20,000 views!
- Launch Date: Saturday, February 7th, 2015
- Launch Location: Medina River Natural Area south of San Antonio, Texas
- Launch Time: Noon
- Media Coverage: San Antonio Express-News, mySA, KENS5
- Social Media Coverage: Twitter
- Special Guest: Bill Taylor (local weatherman)
Mission Control carefully followed the pre-launch check-list to prepare the payload and hardware. Mission Specialist prepped the flower experiment. Meteorology team checked the weather conditions and determined optimal launching area. Recovery team prepped the GPS tracker and software. With clear skies and low wind speeds, we were ready to deploy the balloon! The nerve-racking part proved to be the filling of the balloon and then tying to the payload as I kept fearing the balloon would just blow out of my hands! We also had a hard time getting an accurate reading on the spring scale to determine lift so we had to guess the amount. But, everything ended in success and was an exhilarating experience for all!
Here are some pictures and videos from launch day: