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Preparations and launch

Clicking on each image will give you a larger version (30 to 50 kB).

Our first step on launch day: follow the daily pilot balloon to know the altitude winds

Mario (Pepe) LU3HEF, out meteorological expert, follows attentively the data received from the sounding balloon.
The office follows the balloon with this antenna

...controlled by this equipment. It shows azimuth and elevation which combined with a known ascending speed, permits pinpointing the position
The Vaisala load send temperature, humidity and pressure, which are recorded here.

Then the data is processed and distributed to the world meteorological net, to be used for aviation
I made a small program that permits, using the wind data, estimating the impact point, in function of the ascending speed.

That day, the wind profile indicated that, apparently, the direction of the wind was completely unexpected above 10000 meters. I suspected the results, as winds above this altitude are normally quite predictable.

As the recuperation teams were in a completely different direction, and couldn't travel in time, I decided to abort the launch.

I did some investigating afterwards, and found references as to what might have happened: a strong thermal inversion could create just that type of error. That's to say, the winds were correct, but the meteo office's equipment had been following an image of the transmitter, not the transmitter itself.

December is summer in the southern hemisphere, so probability of an inversion ocurring was high.

Below is the actual launch, four months later (because of the holidays):

Lots of interested people came to watch the preparation process. Even the meteo office people seemed more interested in our experiment...

Almost ready to fly, the SSTV generator gave up.
Already, lots of people were waiting for the launch

Re-open the payload to do a quick check for connections, but I couldn't find anything, so I disconnected the units to avoid power problems.
Everybody was very 'radioactive' and nervous

Ready to fly
Tie everything together - one last check...

The launch director, Sabine LW2HAZ

Continues in the flight pages


(c) John Coppens ON6JC/LW3HAZ mail