Monday, December 3, 2012

Pathfinder Launch and Declaration of "Launch Ready": December 3, 2012

Monday morning, the weather out at the LDB facility on the ice shelf was almost perfect. NASA CSBF (Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility) planned on launching a Pathfinder balloon around 9am to get first-hand data about the vortex over Antarctica. When I went outside to get a look, I could see a smaller "pie ball" balloon up to test the winds a few hundred feet above the ground. Since there was some time left before launch, I went back inside and got to work.

A "Pie Ball" above the LDB site


A little before 9am the BLAST crew all came down at the same time to go see the launch, so I grabbed my camera and followed them out. By the time we got outside, though, the pathfinder balloon was off the ground and slowly going up into the sky.

The Pathfinder balloon drifts away


The Pathfinder's flight can be tracked here: http://www.csbf.nasa.gov/map/pathfinder/p1/dec2012/balloon1.htm

We spent the day finalizing our initial settings for our software during the flight and getting things ready to go for launch. I spent most of the afternoon modifying our quick-look software so it displayed some more information coming down from the payload. Richard ran through a complete pre-flight checkout and will keep doing that every day until launch.

In the afternoon, we officially declared ourselves Launch Ready. Sometime Monday (US time) we're expecting to get the all-clear from NASA to launch, so now it's just a waiting game until the weather is nice enough to launch. Tuesday morning there will be a weather briefing but right now it's looking like Tuesday will be windy and Wednesday will be snowy, so it will be later in the week before we're able to launch.

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