Transatlantic Balloon Flight, December 11-14, 2011
World Records held for an unmanned latex weather balloon flight
First Successful Transatlantic Crossing
First Successful US Transcontinental Crossing
Flight Distance 6,236 Great Circle Miles
The First Transcontinental Transatlantic International Amateur Radio Balloon Flight
By Don Ferguson, kd6ire
Ron Meadows, and his son Lee, Leaders of the California Near Space Project, http://californianearspaceproject.com/ successfully launched an amateur radio high altitude balloon on Sunday at 4:43 pm local PST time. The balloon reached a cruise altitude between 105,000’ and 115,000’ where it continued its travel across the United States, the Atlantic Ocean, Spain and into the Mediterranean Sea.
The balloon, radio call sign K6RPT-11, traveled through California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey. When it left the New Jersey shore behind it was received by coastal stations as far away as Nova Scotia and when it exceeded the range of these stations we lost track and feared that it would not be heard from again.
In the morning we were greeted by news that K6RPT-11’s signal had be received by radio station CU2ARA in the Azores’ and was alive and well at 111,503’ and traveling 162 mph and continuing on its flight East @ 92*. The rest of the day on Tuesday was exciting as more stations around the world took note of the little balloon form Silicon Valley heading for the European mainland.
The Amateur Radio APRS system of digital radio repeaters maintained reception of the data traffic from the balloon transmitter, which transmitted it’s location from the onboard GPS. This network is established on 144.39 mhz in the United States but is on a different frequency in Europe. Ham radio operators across the world were able to quickly adjust the European receivers to the balloons frequency and provide continued tracking worldwide.
This is yet another example of the response and flexibility of Ham Radio Operators to meet a sudden challenge and provide communications when needed.
The balloon traveled at about 150 mph, most of the trip, and eventually covered 6,236 great circle miles in just 57 hours 2 minutes for new amateur radio balloon flight distance and duration world records. First radio packet after launch at 12/12/2011 00:44:30utc, Last packet at 12/14/2011 09:46:30 utc
The actual flight path can be viewed at the link below:
CNSP-11 was the first US Transcontinental and the first Transatlantic crossing of an amateur balloon flight traveling 6,236 miles.
The target launch date was December 21, 2011 for minimum UV exposure.
Mark Conner, N9XTN from NSTAR provided weather predictions for the high altitude flight path and gave CNSP the final ok to launch on December 11, 2011.
The reason CNSP launched (CNSP-11, 1600g Hwoyee) and (CNSP-12, 3000g Totex) was to attempt a high altitude float with two completely different size envelopes and see what affect UV would have on Hwoyee vs. Totex.
Lee Meadows of CNSP Payload Engineering developed the calculations that made it possible to achieve these float altitudes.
The CNSP-11 1600g Hwoyee flight exceeded our expectations with a total flight time of 57 hours. Hwoyee seems to have superior resistance to UV degradation compared to Totex.
The CNSP-12 3000g Totex flight preformed as expected with 5-6 hours of UV exposure before bursting.
Ham radio operators across the world were able to quickly adjust the European receivers to the balloons frequency and provide continued tracking worldwide. (see the European stations below)
CU2ARA-1 First Azores Packet.(CU2ARA-1 always relayed through CU2IE)
CT1END First Continent Packet (tracked K6RPT-11 as it crossed the European coast)
EA7FQB Over water (Mediterranean Sea)
EB6AOK-3 Last Packet
CQ VHF Magazine
San Jose Mercury News
Launch Video By Michael Wright, K6MFW of CNSP
Transatlantic Balloon Flight
CNSP-11 makes the first US Transcontinental and the first Transatlantic crossing of an amateur balloon flight traveling 6,236 miles.