Project HALO Status Report

Sky Launch 1, Attempt 3 -- Success in Hampstead

Held on Sunday, May 11, 1997 in Hampstead, North Carolina

The following text was taken, with permission, from an article by Gene Young, Electronics Team Member, which was published in the May-June 1997 issue of the Southeastern Space Supporter, newsletter of HAL5.

An “Uplifting” Experience

The Hampstead SL-1 Rockoon launch was an uplifting (no pun intended) experience.  Cooperation between all persons and technical disciplines involved was the word of the day.  Everyone, club members and volunteers, pitched in to get the job done, even down to the menial task of cutting the grass with a small push-mower.  The weather on the day before the launch (Saturday) was cool and windy.  Caps and lawn chairs blew away frequently.  Dr. Scarborough used duct tape and rope to keep his straw hat in place.  The wind made pitching of tents a difficult process.  It took real ingenuity and muscle to form a 10x20 ft orange tarpaulin and a variety of structural members (sticks, ropes and duct tape) into a suitable tent to house the rocket and associated activities.

The morning of the launch started for most club members about 3:00 AM.  The weather was cold but the winds were calm.  I worked with Clay Sawyer in electrical preparation and checkout of the rocket.  There were minor deviations from perfection but electrical activities were completed on time.  I did not have much opportunity to observe balloon preparations but I do remember seeing the silver-like balloon standing motionless and tall against a beautiful blue morning sky.

There was no doubt in my mind that we would launch that morning -- and we did.  I was one of three people holding the gondola when the balloon was released.  We started running, carrying the gondola, in the direction of balloon drift.  We were prepared to give the gondola a heave at the appropriate time but it was just taken by the rising balloon right out of our hands.  Smiles and joy were abundant because it was obvious SL-1 was on its way.  To watch SL-1 rising and proceeding east into the early morning sky gave me an emotional high like few I have ever experienced.  Thanks, Project HALO!

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