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Category: 2008
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NSTAR's first ever two-man launch operation was our 08-B flight. We had hoped to be able to launch from around Valley, but the track forecast caused us to select Treynor (Iowa) High School as our launch site.

Conditions that morning were perfect, with clear skies and very light winds. The parking lot was in use for drivers' ed, so we picked a spot out of the way of that and the groundskeeping going on that morning. The fill went very well for having just the two of us available, and we launched at 0819 CDT (1319 UTC).

Soon after launch, the main beacon became undecodeable. We could hear it transmitting, but the signal strength was very weak compared to normal. We switched to the backup beacon on 144.39 and continued tracking as we drove towards Shenandoah and Clarinda.

We arrived in Clarinda a while before burst, which was at 0928 CDT (1428 UTC) and 91,647 ft. The balloon was coming directly towards Clarinda and I was getting concerned that the landing would actually be in town. But the balloon passed well overhead and to the south of town, and we chased east and then south towards its expected landing.

 
 Shards of the balloon caught by the payload camera right after burst

With some favorable roads, we caught up to the balloon and saw it land in a pasture at 1012 CDT (1512 UTC). We got several great photos as it touched down. The payloads were undamaged, but it was later determined that the HT powering the main beacon had suffered an internal solder joint failure, which was repaired thanks to Ralph W0RPK.