First HAB Adventure

It was November before we got around to our yearly mancation – with this years goal to launch a camera into the Stratos.
We simulated the flightpath to land in the centre of the Black Rock Deserts 1 million acre expanse to maximise chances of recovery.
(This was actually our second choice target. After a month of planning, it turned out what looked clear on google satellite images was actually a hidden TOPGUN airbase. As that may have impeded recovery somewhat we changed our target location last minute  🙂
We launched at 3:30pm from Susanville to maximise the golden hour. We’ll use the Ricoh GR again, but this time we gave it too much choice over shutter speed when we would have achieved better results pre-set. Despite multiple ball and socket joints in the rig there was more movement on the payload than we estimated so a number of the images were blurred. (We countered spinning but suffered swing). We still got some rewarding shots though.
Inline image 1
The High Altitude Balloon reached 66,000 feet; this was the last shot before the balloon burst and plummeted into darkness. It drifted 102 miles to the center of the projected landing spot.
Inline image 2
We successfully recovered the payload 24 hours after launch…
Inline image 4
…during which time we fell in love with Black Rock desert.  Its unbelievably beautiful, and the short time we spent out there we were literally avoiding stepping on shells embedded on the desert floor which have remained untouched for >15,000 years. We were surrounded by wild horses, goldmines, geode mines, hot springs, hand carved flint arrowheads and other remnants of settlers through the ages.
Inline image 7
Inline image 6
We worked with Friends of Black Rock on the recovery, they were awesome and generous with their time.
None of the payload images have been edited yet; I’ll repost if there’s significant improvements after tweaking the RAW files.  We’re planning to launch again next year with lessons learned, an improved payload design and 360 camera(s). I don’t know yet how easy it will be with multiple cameras in tow but it would be something to reach the mesosphere.
If anyone else has launched a HAB I’d love to hear your learnings too.


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