11:00 PM: Less than 12 hours after the previous attempt got called off, we are heading back to LDB to try again…
12:10 AM: We’re rolling out, and Brent and I remembered to start the playlist! The Boss is about to pick us up.
12:45 AM: We just heard from CSBF that the winds are looking pretty good. We should be heading to the flight line soon. Though that’s great news about the winds, I think we’re all a little afraid to get our hopes up again…
1:45 AM: We’re heading to the flight line! CSBF claims they are “cautiously optimistic”. The winds are staying fairly consistent, so they’ve decided which way to lay out the balloon. Hopefully the wind direction doesn’t change too much.
COSI and the Boss heading to the launch pad
This little trailer brings the parachute out to the launch pad
2:00 AM: Each science group gets to use one of the mules during their balloon launch, so that we can easily get out to the launch pad and back. Brent, Carolyn and I went to go pick it up and park it right next to the weather port.
Brent and Carolyn were really excited about getting the mule
The back seat wasn’t set up properly, so I rode in the back
2:10 AM: The helium trucks are heading out to the launch pad. Now it’s just the balloon that needs to get picked up.
3:20 AM: Winds are looking too high, again.
4:00 AM: The low level winds look perfect, but the surface winds keep oscillating between being too high and being fine. The balloon got taken out of the weather port and is heading towards the launch pad. This doesn’t mean it will get taken out of the box. A current idea is to wait until the surface winds go down again, and then immediately start inflating, hoping that they stick to the pattern of being down for about an hour and a half. This sounds pretty risky, so CSBF hasn’t decided yet if that’s what we’ll be doing.
It’s been a long night, and a long week! Brent and I decided to nap while we waited for CSBF to come pick up the balloon. Unfortunately we only have one cot, but luckily the big red is pretty comfortable.
Now that the balloon is out of the weather port, we have a ton of space. Carolyn decided to lie down right in the middle of the building, something we haven’t been able to do in quite awhile.
5:40 AM: We’re still waiting for the surface winds to die down.
8:40 AM: They’ve taken the balloon out of the box! This means they’re being very serious about the launch. However, as we learned during launch attempt 2, it doesn’t necessarily mean the launch will happen.
9:10 AM: They’re starting inflation! More updates to come later, video here: http://www.csbf.nasa.gov/antarctica/ice.htm
10:20 AM: And we’ve launched!
The balloon during inflation, the parachute, the Boss, and COSI
Me in front of the balloon during inflation
The Boss about to release the payload. My camera wasn’t really good enough to handle it.
There was this awesome rainbow going on right after launch
Go, COSI, go!
One of the Spider guys took this pretty sweet video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WT6tnEPUQts. The balloon goes in front of the sun, which looks awesome!!
12:18 PM: COSI has launched and the ascent is looking good!!! Pictures of the launch are pending, for now, here are some pictures captured by the CSBF cameras on the gondola during and after launch:
Looking up at the balloon immediately before the gondola was released from the launch vehicle.
Looking up at the balloon sometime after launch and after emerging from the low level clouds.
A view of Mount Erebus as COSI emerges from the clouds.
A view of Mount Erebus and Mount Terror from above.
Not sure how high the balloon is at this point, but yes, you can see the atmosphere and the dark space above. How wicked is that?!
1:15 PM: COSI is officially at float altitude. We’ll be spending the next couple of days using the line-of-sight telemetry link to monitor the instrument. All looks pretty good so far!