The Icarus Project

The Icarus Project

High Altitude Ballooning

Icarus II Launch 1

Technical Data

Launch Date 3 January 2009 10:37:38 UTC
Launch Lat, Lon 52.252828, -0.09185
Landing Date 3 January 2009 13:11:42 UTC
Landing Lat, Lon 51.05447, 0.932895
Flight Duration 2:34:04 (hh:mm:ss)
Total Distance 150.81 km
Max Altitude 35,289 m (35.289 km)
Average Ascent Rate 5.31 m/s
Average Descent Rate 14.06 m/s
Max Descent Rate 62.5 m/s (225 km/h)
Impact Speed 5.80 m/s
Payload Mass 0.540 kg
Balloon Mass 1.5kg
Total Mass 2.04 kg

[flickr-gallery mode="photoset" photoset="72157612167714216"]


It was a very cold and frosty morning, minus one degrees on the car temperature sensor, when I arrived at EARS. EARS stands for East Anglian Rocketry Society whose location is in a field in Cambridgeshire. I was not relishing the thought of working outside, filling the balloon and tying up lines with icy cold fingers. James and Steve arrived just after me and we quickly got the kit unloaded. I set about testing the payload and making sure that all the electronics were functioning correctly. James set about making a weight out of water bottles to test the free lift of the balloon and Steve sorted out a parachute for the payload.

There was a bug in the GPS NMEA parsing which meant that leading zeros after the decimal point were being omitted. This caused some problems initially in tracking the payload until the problem was identified and manual corrections made to the telemetry. Thank you James Coxon and Laurence for tracking and debugging.

The landing was 2 miles from Dover which is a real bugger to get to from Cambridge and not to mention the drive home to Leeds.

Lessons learnt and improvement in the future

DONE – Fix GPS code to leave in leading zeros after DP (ie 0.9987 should be 0.009987)

DONE – Fix Temp code to remove – sign on the DP part (ie -18.-9 should be -18.9)

DONE – Include an external temperature sensor

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