On Dec 5th, 2015 we launched NSL-42 for a two hour flight across Wake County. The mission was conceived only a few days before, and a brief lull predicted in the winter jet stream gave us our opportunity. Bryan, Chris, and Paul had prepped the payload over the previous 48 hours. David joined to help with the launch.
We decided to land our payload near Zebulon; this would keep driving to the landing site to a minimum in the event of a lengthy recovery. So we picked a small park in Pittsboro, NC as our launch site. The payload was a re-flight of the NSL-40 package, a smallish plastic box, with an AP510 & Spot for tracking and a GoPro & 808 #16a for cameras. The GoPro filmed a model X-wing on an outrigger. The 808 was mounted looking down.
The moment of release The launch crew The balloon and moon from the ground
We desired a lower sun angle than NSL-40, so we decided to launch before 0900EST in December. Note the long shadows seen from the down-facing 808 camera. After a chilly setup and launch, the balloon was visible from the launch site for at least 20 minutes as it climbed above 20,000 feet.
Downward facing 808 camera at 81,000 feet -- Fayetteville is to the left and our reactor steam plume near center. There were very few clouds in the sky, but there was a pronounced haze.
Our recovery team was a few hundred yards away awaiting landing. We were hopeful that the payload would land in the many cleared fields nearby. But alas, our payloads are strangely attracted to the tallest trees in the area. As in NSL-40, James was able to cast a fishing line up the required 100 feet, but we were unable to pull a thicker line up to snag the payload. A tree climber was called in to scale the tree and recover it.
This was a rather clean flight. The typical decrease in ascent rate before burst was not evident this time, but we did get a nice increase in ascent rate due to solar heating. Also, the payload was clear plastic with black foam inside. This allowed the inside to warm up to above freezing at high altitudes. The developer of the AP510 APRS tracker had provided new code to help with the on-board recorded data. This resolved some of the issues, but additional improvements were noted. The equipment held up well, even though there was a chute tangle early-on that led to a faster than desired descent.