Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Wind Farm Visit

For the last few years, we could see a row of windmills perched on ridge to the east of the base. We had no idea how big they were or exactly how far away they are. We did some research and found out that each blade is 115 feet long! We looked on Google maps and found that the closest one to the base is 13 miles away. This evening, we drove out to the ridge to get a close look. These things look like they are out of a Star Wars movie. They are huge and very high tech looking. There are over 130 of them along this ridge. Very spectacular.

Back in Ft. Sumner

We are back at "The Fort" after a short trip home to batten down the hatches for hurricane Rita. We weathered the storm at home with no damage to homes, but we did lose some limbs and trees. I did the final torque on the end fittings and covered the bolts with soft tape.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Waiting on the Wind

We came out this morning to see the JPL balloon flight but it cancelled again. It was a pretty sunrise though. The weather pattern over eastern NM is very difficult to predict, but we are not optimistic about our chances for a flight until later in the week. Please pray for us to get some favorable winds soon.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Life in Ft. Sumner

We are basically ready for our flight. The science group from JPL will be flying on Sunday morning. We will be going out and providing video coverage since this is a test flight.

I thought I would give a little insight on our day to day living here in Ft. Sumner. Ft. Sumner is has a population of about 800. It is one of those towns in New Mexico that has seen steady decline since I 40 was built. It is the location of the grave of Billy the Kid. We stay at the Billy the Kid Country Inn. I mom & pop motel that is clean and friendly. Gary and Elaine take good care of us. It's not the newest motel in town, but it is the "nicest".

In true New Mexico fashion, Henry and I were driving down the main street of the town when we saw a tumbleweed rolling across the street. I just had to take a photo.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Electronics Integration

We have integrated the CAP (Commandable Apex Package), the inflation ports and the wiring harnesses. We were told today that we might be all clear to fly early next week. There are two other groups here preparing for flights. One is a 5200 lb package from JPL which contains several different experiments that do remote sensing of the constituents of our atmosphere. Some of these instruments are so sensitive that they can study the atmospheres of other planets. A photo of the compatibility check-out of the JPL stack is included with this post.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Balloon is Ready

We have the balloon ends out of the box and prep'd for electronics integration. If that goes well, we could actually be flight ready in a couple of days. Considering we started working only today, that would really be record time!

For real-time video of the work area, see the NSBF web cams:

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Back in Fort Sumner

We have been deployed again to Ft. Sumner to get the next ULDB flight ready. We should be flight ready by the end of the week. I arrived last night and this morning we got to see a launch for JPL. Here are some photos of the launch. We had a telescope out and I took this photo just by putting our digital camera up to the eyepiece. Not bad. More to come on the balloon preps tomorrow.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Standing Down for Now

We have been put on stand-down status while we work through some concerns from the NASA flight safety office. We hope to have a clear direction for the status of the test flight by the end of next week.

After going through heroic efforts to ship the balloon on time, it is a little disheartening to have this happen. I had an interesting morning today. I left the house at 7:15 for a 10:00 flight to Albuquerque. As the flight was boarding, I got a call from the boss saying we were getting the stand-down order. I had to get my bag taken off the plane. If I had gotten the call fifteen minutes later, I would have gone all the way to Albuquerque just to turn around and come home.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Gearing up for the "Fort"

Our next balloon flight will be taking place some time near the first week in September. The balloon is in finishing now.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Picking up the pieces north of Amarillo.
Posted by Hello

Off the pin! A beautiful launch!
Posted by Hello

Ready for release!
Posted by Hello

Pragmatism Again!

I was really sure that this would be the balloon that broke our string of failures in this project. The inflation, launch, and ascent were all absolutely beautiful. We were able to use the valve to control the ascent rate so that we entered cruising altitude at exatly the right speed. Just as the balloon was pressurizing, a part of one of the seals opened up and - well - that was that. The balloon came down just north of Amarillo. We went out that evening to look at it. The part that came open is now in our plant. We are in the midst of the failure investigation. I am hopeful that we quickly find the cause and are able to get back flying again this summer. Ever Onward.


Friday, February 04, 2005

Moving out to the flight line

We are moving out to the flight line. The winds are light and in a favorable direction. So far so good . . . .

Showing for Launch

The payload and launch crew are moving out to the flight line. The weather looks much more stable today than it did last time.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Big Bill on the Launch Pad
Posted by Hello

Adventures in the Stratosphere

Well I've established this web log to help keep people up to date on our activities for the ULDB flight out here in Ft. Sumner. We have cancelled for today. The weather looks better for in the morning. Saturday is also a possibility. The weather is clear and cold this morning with surface winds at about 5 kts. The winds at 500 and 1000 ft were too high for launch though. Some were as high as 20 kts. Here are some web sites to keep up with our progress.


web cams:

John DeMar's photos: