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High altitude balloon and payload missing, possibly landed in Metro Atlanta | News

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High altitude balloon and payload missing, possibly landed in Metro Atlanta

CARROLLTON, Ga. -- The hunt is on for a missing high-altitude balloon and its payload, which dropped to earth possibly in Metro Atlanta nearly two weeks ago.

"We did tape a note on it," said the amateur astronaut, Blake Raab, who helped launch it, "it says it's a harmless science experiment, if you find it please call."

Raab and other space-flight enthusiasts launched the balloon in Carrollton on November 6th.

Their plan -- map the balloon's flight, on-line and in real time, using the telemetry equipment attached to the balloon, as cameras on board take pictures. Then when it all parachutes to the ground, retrieve the cameras and the pictures and the rest of the gear.

All systems were "go" -- or so they thought.

The battery that was powering the tracking equipment died, somewhere over Union City.

The balloon's altitude was 63,498 feet -- 12 miles high -- and climbing when they lost communication.

Based on trajectory projections, they believe the balloon rose to more than 100,000 feet -- about 20 miles up -- where it burst according to plan, and parachuted to the ground harmlessly somewhere south and east of Stone Mountain, Georgia.

This was Blake Raab's third high-altitude balloon flight this year.

He follows FAA regulations, which require him to file a notice prior to launch.

He and the West Georgia Amateur Radio Society were experimenting this time with a lighter battery for the communications gear and the cameras, and they believe it simply was not powerful enough to keep the equipment powered.

"Our first two launches, we landed in a swamp and a lake. So I always tell people there's a lot of possibilities about where a balloon can land."

He and his friends easily found the first two payloads since the tracking equipment worked flawlessly, then.

And the photos Raab retrieved from his cameras on the first two flights are spectacular.

He pointed to his computer screen where he was displaying the images, one taken every 30 seconds of the "missions."

"As you can see the sky gets dark, you see the blue glow of the atmosphere... The thrill of that is you feel like you're exploring space. It gets kids excited about science and space. Really, look what you can accomplish. NASA didn't take that picture. I did."

Blake Raab runs a nonprofit charity called Bears on Patrol that supplies police officers with teddy bears to give to children on their beats.

Raab's already sent one of the bears up with a balloon, inside a styrofoam cooler "space capsule."

"We named him Fuzz Aldren." Raab smiled, describing enthusiastically the education he and his friends are gaining with their high-altitude ballooning.

So if you see the parachute and payload, maybe somewhere in the Stone Mountain area, but who knows --

Remember that Blake Raab paid for it out of his own pocket, and he's offering a $100 reward, and he'll probably let you help with his next launch -- where hopes always fly high.

"It is amazing."



Blake Raab



Twitter:  @BearsOnPatrol



West Georgia Amateur Radio Society

Bears on Patrol

Mission Blog and Reward Information


Carrollton Businesses