20 October, 2003
Just another day ballooning
We spent the morning hutching a larger balloon and the afternoon launching. First the chemical ozone sonde had to be prepped. Then the instrument needed to be put together and tested. The lithium batteries we used were unable to run the instrument, but after a long discharge they came back to life. The parachute had to be strung correctly, and the balloon must be inspected and folded neatly. All the elements of the launch must work before we pack it to the launch site.
It was a very good day, the winds were absent, the air was warm, and we few problems. The only thing to go wrong was that static electricity caused one of squibs to fire unexpectedly. We have to make sure that the balloon separates from the instrument on the larger payloads. To do this the lines holding the balloon are cut with a gun powder charge. A slight electric discharge is all it takes to fire it. As we packed it away it made a sharp banging noise, so we had to replace it. They are very expensive!
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