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Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 11:25 pm | Fair 47º


High-Altitude Balloon Launch from Santa Barbara Expected to Reach Edge of Space

Museum, Amateur Radio Club and Hackerspace hope to capture live images from 100,000 feet above Earth

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, in cooperation with the Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club and Santa Barbara Hackerspace, plan to launch a high-altitude balloon on Saturday.

The balloon will carry a technology payload to a projected altitude of 100,000 feet above the Earth, where it will capture live images and dispatch flight information to ground stations.

“It has been a fun and rewarding challenge,” said Rod Fritz of the Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club. “It is exciting to see our ideas take shape as we anticipate a successful flight. Until I can soar into space commercially, it’s great to know I can get there this way and take others along for the ride.”

For those technically inclined to follow the flight, the payload will include:

» An Automatic Position Reporting Beacon (APRS) on 144.39 MHz with the WB9KMO amateur radio call sign WB9KMO; track the balloon online at www.aprs.fi/?call=WB9KMO-11.

» Two multimode digital telemetry downlinks on 144.34 MHz and 14.079 MHz; view the telemetry as it’s received live by amateur radio stations at spacenear.us/tracker/.

» Live Robot 36 images via Slow Scan TV on 144.58 (input of 145.18 MHz Repeater).

» Amateur TV on 2441.5 MHz; view the video stream as it’s received live by radio amateurs at www.batc.tv/ch_live.php (select WB9KMO-ATN from the list).

The launch is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday from West Beach near Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara, but weather conditions and winds may cause the site to be moved. Updates will be posted online at www.sbarc.org and on the SBARC amateur radio repeater on 146.79 MHz.

If all goes according to plan, the craft should rise above 99 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere and transmit stunning images from the edge of space before returning to the surface for retrieval.

— Rod Fritz is the outreach committee chair for the Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club.


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