NSTAR hosts the fifth Great Plains Super Launch with a symposium at University of Nebraska-Omaha on Friday with the launches on Saturday morning from Treynor HS.
Wayne KE6DZD and I headed to the launch site and arrived around 7am with all the helium tanks. As we were laying them out, the ten launch groups began arriving and setting up their equipment. Taylor University had a trailered ground station which would remain at the launch site to collect data while their chase team recovered their equipment. The winds began to gust to around 10 mph, so instead of holding for a simultaneous launch each group chose their own time to launch.
NSTAR and CNNSP flew in tandem again because of the loss of NSTAR's backup beacon in May and the lack of time to assemble and procure a replacement. This was very fortunate for us, because NSTAR's payload quit transmitting GPS data prior to launch. In all the haste and confusion, we did not perform a just-before-release check of the payloads. It was later determined that the connector to the GPS came loose in the handful of minutes between our last check and launch.
The track was expected to be relatively short so we were not in a hurry to leave the launch site. We collected the cylinders onto the truck and trailer and left them at the launch site since the Taylor Univ. crew would still be there. After that, we headed to Griswold and awaited our balloon's burst.
The CNNSP payload was faithfully transmitting its data so we had no issues with tracking. As we were waiting, we were able to see about seven of the balloons in the same patch of sky at once - a spectacular sight. We then headed east to US 71 and watched ORB and NearSys (KD4STH) land close to Grant.
We went back to the west a few miles and then north to chase the combined NSTAR/CNNSP flight. Finally we saw it land in a cornfield not far from the road a few miles east of Elliot.
After picking up our payloads, we tried to make contact with some of the other crews still searching for their payloads. In particular, we knew that MECSAT had some tracking issues but were unable to make contact with them or other NSTAR members who were helping them. We headed back to the Cracker Barrel in Council Bluffs for some lunch/dinner and shared some stories. Later we heard that the MECSAT payloads were found after a difficult search in some cornfileds also near Elliot.