We launched right about 9am CDT in a light rain. Fortunately it was not enough to cause too many problems with the prep.
After filling the balloon with a full T tank, Paul measured the free lift and it was about 12.5 lbs. This was less than expected and about equal to the total suspended weight if we flew all three payloads. Unfortunately we had to detach the Project:Traveler payload, which may have been just as well as it turned out.
The initial ascent rate was only 300 ft/min. Fortunately this increased after the first few thousand feet, or it would have been an even longer day. We headed north to Blair, then east to Missouri Valley and northeast to Denison, detouring around a 5th of July parade in Woodbine. Burst was about 94,000 ft at 1126 CDT.
Soon after descent it was apparent that the NearSys payload was coming down by itself. Chuck KD0BWI and Paul KD4STH headed off to its last report which was at 13,000 ft MSL, while Wayne KE6DZD and I continued north after the NSTAR payload. It too had problems on descent with only a few decoded packets below 60,000 ft received by the mobile setup. We got one last report at about 13,000 ft MSL just before noon then the transmitter stopped altogether - not even a weak transmit signal. We spent about an hour roaming the boundary of four sections in the target area with nothing heard or seen. With the corn about 8 ft tall, it would be hard to spot there. Finally, about an hour after landing, the transmitter was heard at full power and we got a position report about a mile away. We drove to within 300 ft of the payloads and recovered them. About the same time, we heard from Paul that the NearSys payload was also recovered. After they drove to the last report, they heard the transmitter on the ground and picked it up about a dozen rows of corn away from the road and within a half mile of the last airborne location report.
The Dacron fabric at the attachment points had all torn away on the NearSys payload. From the knotted condition of some of the cords, it's surmised that this descent was particularly violent soon after burst.
The exact reason for the failure at 13,000 ft is still unknown, but our theory is that the oscillator on the Basic Stamp 2p temporarily stopped due to condensation. No internal logs were recorded for about an hour, from 13,000 ft until we heard it again well after landing. This means the BS2p basically stopped doing anything for an hour, then picked up again where it left off. This is the first time this particular failure style has happened, however, the payloads probably got more moisture inside and out than on any previous flight.
The still camera shut off shortly after burst and the video camera shortly before.