HSA-VI Recovered, Hook Shot into the Rough

posted Oct 13, 2010, 7:27 AM by Ryan Butcher   [ updated Oct 13, 2010, 9:51 AM ]

We pulled the wind data for a potential launch of HSA-VI on October 8th and it turned out it would be a good day to send it up.  We packed up and headed to Wilson where it was launched at about 1430.  This was the longest duration flight to date being aloft for nearly 2.5 hours while travelling nearly 50 miles eastward.  We tested some new ideas on this one and some worked and others are back on the drawing board.  Overall it was a success and we retreived some great video from very high altitude. 
The capsule landed north east of Greenville NC on Feather Creek Farms hunting preserve where after two unsuccessfull trips to get it out of an old pine deep in the woods, purveyor of the preserve Al Pierce was able to take aim and shoot it down from the tree.  Special thanks to Al and the staff of Feather Creek Farms - go book yourself a hunt,  they're good people out there.
After reviewing the footage we've determined further changes to the payload that we'll be testing on subsequent flights.  Our primary camera and tempature guages were destroyed so we're taking the opportunity to upgrade a few things also.  For more info images and notes check out the HSA-VI page here
Taken from HSA-VI on October 8, 2010

HSA-V recovered successfully, photographs strange object orbiting Earth

posted Sep 25, 2010, 4:18 PM by Ryan Butcher   [ updated Sep 25, 2010, 4:32 PM ]

HSA-V has been recovered and produced some good video from near space.  The recovery effort was by far the worst to date by landing in dense wilderness 100+ feet atop a pine tree.  In total it took three trips to the sites and 7+ hours of hiking through tough land to get to it.  After exhausting all options, and ourselves - we shot the payload line with a 12ga shotgun and dropped the capsule from the tree.

Our primary still camera was testing some new software that we wrote and didn't produce great images this time but gave good information to put toward the next version.  Our primary video camera donned some new software and performed great,  producing 60 videos.  Check out the videos on youtube and on the HSA-V page here.

One of the most interesting things of this flight other than the dramatic recovery was some strange objects we caught on film at altitude.  The trajectory of the objects and speed is obvious that it is much higher than us and travelling at an incredible rate of speed.  We aren't claiming ufo here,  we think it's a satellite at this point.

Launch Scheduled for Pioneering Technology Day

posted Sep 14, 2010, 4:37 PM by Ryan Butcher   [ updated Sep 21, 2010, 2:29 PM ]

Want to see a launch in person?  Got questions for us?  Astrohack has been invited to launch a near space flight at "Pioneering Technology Day", a science-centric day hosted by A Time for Science on November 13th, 2010.  We'll be answering questions, setting up the equipment, launching the payload, and tracking the flight in real time as it ascends 15 miles into the Stratosphere.

Ayden, North Carolina
November 13, 2010
10:00am – 4:00pm

Join A Time for Science Nature and Science Learning Center.
Experience and celebrate technologies of the distant and recent past that brought us to the 21st Century.
For directions to A Time for Science Nature and Science Learning Center click here.

A Time for Science is a nature and science learning center located in southern Pitt county, North Carolina dedicated to advancing science literacy and competency by encouraging and supporting student participation in science, engineering, and math competitions.

HSA-IV catches Hurricane Earl

posted Sep 3, 2010, 3:37 PM by Ryan Butcher   [ updated Sep 3, 2010, 4:37 PM ]

HSA-IV was our hurricane hunter, sent up into Hurricane Earl early on September 3rd 2010.  We first planned to launch at 6am but waited until a break in the sky allowed for the capsule to travel safely to altitude and sent it aloft at 8am.  We got over 50 amazing videos and over 2000 still images from the two on board cameras.  One video clearly catches the sounding balloon exploding and disintegrating at the flight apex.  Our high altitude video of Earl was featured on Eastern NC's WITN news at 6pm today (might be on again at 11).  You can clearly see the hurricane and the coast of the Carolinas (Cape Lookout most definitively) We're pretty tired, so a more elaborate story to come,  for now check out a couple videos from the trip on the HSA-IV page here.

Taken from HSA-IV over North Carolina

HSA-IV prepped and ready for Hurricane Earl

posted Sep 2, 2010, 7:13 PM by Ryan Butcher

So there's a hurricane whirling away off the coast of NC,  what better to do than to try and snap some pics of it from 18 miles into the stratosphere?  We opted not to launch ahead of the storm for several reasons but we're hoping to catch it on the way out,  early early tomorrow morning.  

Watch the twitter/Facebook updates from the launch/recovery and wish us luck,  it's going to be shot in the dark whether or not we get the storm with a good shot.  HSA-IV will be carrying both still and video equipment so hopefully we'll have some good pictures and be able to take you for a birds eye view via video (if we get it back!)

Next stop,  Earl!

HSA-III landed and recovered

posted Aug 31, 2010, 1:00 PM by Ryan Butcher   [ updated Sep 1, 2010, 2:26 PM ]

We decided to send HSA-III up for another test flight in the evening of 8/30/2010.  After taking a look at the trajectories we estimated the best place to launch was to be from east of Jamesville NC.  

We launched the pod around 6:30pm and watched it cruise up by eye till about 15k feet.  It was a very clear day.  About an hour after the launch we got a phone call from Greenville saying they could see the pod with binoculars,  so we pulled over on highway 64 and took a look.  Sure enough, the sun was at the right angle,  and not a cloud in the sky so it lit up like a light bulb (it was probably about 20 feet around at that point). We could actually see the unit from the ground moving around up there at about 70k feet!  We watched it cruise across the sky for about half an hour and then lost sight of it.  People on the ground in Greenville reported they could see it coming down and the beacon while it descended.  

It landed in Grifton NC shortly after dark and after some country road navigation we found the payload in some powerlines that crossed through some heavy wooded land.  After spotting it we decided it was best to tackle the recovery in the morning.  At about 7am we retrieved the payload and some good pictures.  Condensation fogged up a lot of the pictures from 10-50k but over that we got some good ones as the sun set.  

Check out the pictures on the HSA-III page here.

Panoramic of the sunset and curvature from HSA-III:

WITN interview

posted Aug 25, 2010, 12:10 PM by Ryan Butcher   [ updated Aug 25, 2010, 12:13 PM ]

8/25/2010: Tune in at 5pm and 6pm to WITN tonight to catch the quick interview covering what we're doing out here (or rather "up there")

HSA-III ready for launch

posted Aug 25, 2010, 6:27 AM by Ryan Butcher   [ updated Aug 25, 2010, 1:20 PM ]

8/15/2010:  We decided to hang Oryan-II up as a trophy and retire it after the first successful launch.  It's 100% intact but we think it serves us better hanging in the garage and as a backup capsule.  We took our lessons learned and finished building HSA-III, which has a number of design changes.  First of all is re-usability.  We wanted to create a capsule that if recovered could be re-used.  HSA-III has also been designed with predetermined weak points in case of impact and also a secondary chute system for the payload electronics in the event it breaks apart while aloft.  Upgraded radar reflection, strobe indicators and more have been added also.  Along with everything else HSA-III will carry both still and video equipment while keeping the overall weight roughly what it was on previous capsules.  

Follow the progress of HSA-III on it's page located here

Oryan-II Launched

posted Aug 25, 2010, 6:19 AM by Ryan Butcher   [ updated Aug 31, 2010, 1:15 PM ]

7/1/2010:  Success!!  We pulled the winds aloft data and decided to head west with Oryan-II and launch it from Wilson NC.  This put us recovering the unit in the countryside around Greenville.  We retreived over 2200 pictures and some really good ones.  

More to come on the adventure but for now check out the updated Oryan-II page located here 

Image from Oryan-II:

Stitched together composite of around 100 of the pictures we received back from Oryan-II

Oryan-II ready for launch

posted Aug 25, 2010, 6:15 AM by Ryan Butcher   [ updated Aug 25, 2010, 6:19 AM ]

6/17/2010:  Determined not to be defeated,  Oryan-II is ready for launch in the upcoming weeks.  We have a new capsule and a better design this time with redundant tracking systems amongst other things.  Wish us luck!

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