Amateur balloonists conquer Atlantic
Mighty globe flies from Silicon Valley to the Mediterranean
A group of US balloonists have achieved the first amateur transatlantic meteorological balloon crossing, with an epic three-day flight from California to the Mediterranean.
The California Near Space Project (CNSP) unleashed four balloons from Silicon Valley on Sunday night. Two were standard high-altitude attempts, which burst at around 125,000ft and landed in western Nevada.
The other two were "floaters" - filled with sufficient helium to reach a pre-burst altitude and then wander with the wind. The first, call sign K6RPT-12, appears to have given up the ghost over Indiana, but the second - K6RPT-11 - continued eastwards across the continent and out over the Atlantic.
Radio enthusiasts in Nova Scotia tracking the balloon via the APRS system lost contact yesterday morning, and it wasn't until 11 hours later that K6RPT-11 reappeared advancing on the Azores.
By this morning, the balloon had traversed southern Spain, and was en route to Italy:
Its current location can be followed on aprs.fi, and it remains to be seen if it does make Italy before its transmitter's battery dies. ®
record breaking flight
Well done Ron and the rest of the team at CNSP. The last location message indicated that the balloon went down in the Med just off the coast of Algeria. To see the entire record breaking flight copy this link into your browser: http://aprs.fi/?call=K6RPT-11&mt=roadmap&z=5&timerange=259200&_s=ss_call.
That said I followed the flight from early on since the first touchdown predictions had both -11 and -12 landing near where I live in Colorado Springs CO USA and after less than 24 hours in the air. Little did those following the flight know that we would be grabbing the smartphone or old PDA to check on the status of the flights at all hours for not 24 hours but over 54 hours. Its been a hoot. Thanks also go to all of the Amateur Radio operators that listened to the balloons and provided the APRS data to the rest of us.
CNSP record-busting balloon flight
I've been doing this amateur radio balloonacy for over 20 years out here in Colorado, and I must admit that of the 160+ flights that I've personally participated in, this one by CNSP this one is the most memorable. What boggles the mind the most is this Chinese-made latex balloon tolerated over 2 full days of intense solar UV flux at over 30 km altitude, defying conventional wisdom that it would last less than 12 hours up there. In fact, that assumption is what drove the original landing forecast. That robustness coupled with a "sweet spot" Helium fill before launch get the credit for this awesome adventure.
Kudos to Ron K6RPT and the CNSP team for blowing away the prior records for unmanned amateur balloon flight duration and distance and setting some really challengingly high bars for the rest of us in this avocation.
Mike Manes, CTO, Edge of Space Sciences www.eoss.org
Maybe this balloon can come down in Iran....
And join the stealth drone in the mullah's captured armory!