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CNNSP-11 (14-May-2016)

Launch Time:  14:36 UTC
Launch Location:  Edgerton Explorit Center, Aurora, NE
Max. Altitude:  90,529 feet
Max. Speed:  107 mph @ 37,000 feet
Flight Duration:  1 hr, 56 min

Launch & Recovery Photos

Aerial Photos (payload camera)

Video (payload camera)


The entire collection of unedited photos can still be viewed on Google Photos at the links below. The links above are to a select group of photos and the lens distortion (warping) caused by the wide angle lens of the GoPro were removed.

Launch & Recovery (Google Photos link)

Aerial - payload camera (Google Photo link)

This was our first launch since 2011 and it was a dual launch with NSTAR. Mark (N9XTN) has been my mentor for this hobby since the early 2000's. He and Wayne (KE6DZD) helped me troubleshoot early payload designs and avoid some potential pitfalls along the way. 

Photo courtesy of NSTAR

It was a cool morning with the temperature in the 40's and the wind was NW 10 - 15 mph. Fortunately the buildings around the Edgerton Explorit Center blocked most of it and allowed us to fill the balloons without too much of a problem. 

Predicted flight track 
The predictions were showing a flight track of just over a 100 miles with a landing near the Nebraska / Kansas border


Actual flight track

The actual track was a bit shorter than predicted due to the higher than anticipated descent rate. I will likely be investing in a slightly larger parachute for any future flights.

Balloon burst occurred at just over 90,000 feet, which isn't bad for a latex balloon that I've had in storage for at least 11 years. We were unable to be in visible range for the landing and due to some issues with our mobile tracking station, it took a little longer to find the payloads. Ultimately I ended up using the faceplate of my Kenwood D700 to narrow down the location. Once we got a visual on the payload train, I went to the nearest residence, got the name and number of the landowner, and got his permission to retrieve our gear.


I left my Jeep idling as we were preparing to gather things up and meet NSTAR for lunch when we heard a very large POP, followed by a very impressive release of steam from under the hood. 

Radiator tank ruptured due to a fan relay failure. As Wayne remarked, "it was nice of your radiator tank to protect that $7 radiator cap." 

An expensive inconvenience

Things that went right:
  • New Tracksoar APRS tracker performed well
  • GoPro captured video of entire flight as well as still images every 5 seconds
  • ARAN's SSTV payload successfully transmitted several in-flight images
  • All payloads successfully retrieved.
Things that went wrong:
  • Mobile tracking station was not receiving any RF 
  • Data logger GPS module not for high altitude use
  • SSTV payload photos were green
Thank you to everyone that came out for the launch and expressed an interest in the hobby. 

A special thanks to my wife, Arlene (KC0ZWX) for photographing the pre-launch activities. And to our son Adam for bringing our grandchildren out to watch.

- Rog KC0MWM