We can’t believe it’s only six days left until the eclipse! We’re super excited about the upcoming launch. But we’re also a bit nervous too, because there are so many things to do and we are getting lots of communications from the Montana Space Grant. It’s so cool to be part of a bigger project with real scientists, but we hope we don’t mess anything up!
We’ve had no internet access for the last few days because our family has been on a trip to Yellowstone National Park. We saw lots of wildlife, including bears, wolves, bison and elk, and we saw geysers, hot springs, and mud pots too. There was a lot to learn about biology and geology!
But now it’s about astronomy and engineering and technology as we prepare for the launch. Being part of the Montana Space Grant Consortium (MSGC), we now have a detailed schedule of the days before launch and launch day itself. The MSGC group with the Wyoming site eclipse ballooning team is split into two groups: the Radiosonde group and the Large Balloon group, which is what we belong to. Under the National Space Grant program eclipse ballooning activities, we are all covered by a national NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) issued by the FAA. This is all official!
We are one of five large balloons that will launch on Eclipse Day: Four Science balloons (Sent into Space, Loki Lego Launcher, MSGC Science Payload, and MIT LL payloads) and one MSGC Live Video payload. This will be the one that will be broadcasting images live to a ground tracking system, which will then be available for everyone to see online. We will not be broadcasting video live from the Loki Lego Launcher, but we will be providing our APRS tracking data in almost real-time, like our last launch.
Here is our planned schedule for the days leading up to the eclipse:
Aug 18 – MSGC teams make their way to Fort Laramie, WY
Aug 19 – Teams do site survey, full systems test
Aug 20 – Radiosonde teams do initial launches, large balloon teams do full systems test
Aug 21 – Eclipse Day (all times Mountain Time):
10:00am Large balloon prep
10:25am Start to inflate the large balloons
10:45am-11:00am Large balloon launches! Will be separated 1-2 minutes apart to avoid tangling lines.
11:15am Large Balloon Launch (MSGC live video payload)
3:00pm-7:00pm Payload retrieval.
Post Launch: Eclipse, Science, Nerd party! (borrowed from our site schedule)
None of this would be possible for us without all the people at the Montana Space Grant Consortium. Thank you for this amazing opportunity!