Eclipse Launch Day: play by play

We are going to try to keep this blog post updated throughout the day today. We have limited internet access and limited power where we are, so that may be a challenge.

Here are two links that hopefully can track the Loki Lego Launcher 3.0 when it launches.!mt=roadmap&z=11&call=a%2FKI7CSK-11&timerange=3600&tail=3600
The forecast for today is for clear skies, but strong winds, which could be problematic for a balloon launch. For a live stream of the eclipse, go here:


9:05pm. We have arrived back at the ranch. We’re tired and exhausted from the 2.5 hour hike through cow fields to retrieve our launcher, but we’re so happy. Not only was the eclipse super awesome, and we were able to successfully recover our spacecraft, but we feel like we belong to the team. The people from the Montana Space Grant have welcomed us from the moment we got here, helped us with everything to do with our launch, and were excited with us after our mission. We’ve learned so much this weekend, and being part of a group of scientists and engineers feels really good. We’re so happy!

6:21pm. Launcher RECOVERED! Had to navigate through several cows, but they got it!  A little concerned about our data though, it looks like a wire on the solar panel came loose. We’ll see after we get a chance to review our data. Right now, we have to hike back to the car before it gets dark!

5:57pm. Walking. Walking. And walking. Looks like we’re getting closer.

5:35pm. We are walking in the middle of nowhere trying to retrieve the launcher. Literally the middle of nowhere.

1:08pm. We have landed! It looks like the launcher is on the ground, about an hour and a half drive into Nebraska. We are coordinating recovery operations now.

12:34pm. It looks like our launcher went into Nebraska, but it has now burst and is coming back down, and seems to be coming back into Wyoming!

12:13pm. It seems like there was someone else on our APRS frequency, but we’ve just re-acquired our signal. So far, the launcher is heading in the direction we expected. With luck, we will have captured an image of the moon’s shadow. We won’t start recovery efforts until later.

11:53am We just witnessed totality! What an amazing experience. We’re so grateful to be here with all these incredible people supporting us with the launch and witnessing the eclipse together.

11:17am We have launched! Loki Lego Launcher 3.0 is off! Tracking enabled. Fly, Loki, fly!

11:01am Adding astrobiology microbe experiment.

10:48am balloon fill.

10:36am. First contact! The moon is starting to cover the sun. LLL 3.0 is ready to go.

10:15am. Making adjustments to APRS. Powering on flight computer and GPS units. Anticipate balloon fill in about 20 minutes. Confirming payload weight.

9:16pm. Watching the pros prepare for launch. This beast is a 5000g balloon that will be carrying a six camera 360 degree rig. The girls will be launching a 2000g balloon today. Their previous launches have used 600g and 350g balloons.

7:53am. Everyone up, having breakfast. Definite buzz in the air. Watching the Sent Into Space team start preparing their custom rig; they will be launching first on an enormous balloon. Many folks concerned with the wind.

6:11am – Dad here. Kids are still sleeping, but breakfast is being served for all eclipse ballooning teams. Need to get them up.


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