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World Record Balloon Attempt

02/09/2012

A group of Amateur Radio operators hopes to establish a world distance record for an unmanned, helium-filled balloon. The BLT-28 balloon will launch from Katy, Texas, on a journey that will take it across the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and then on to Nanjing, China. The South Texas Balloon Launch Team plans to release the balloon at 3 PM CST (2100 UTC) Saturday, February 11.

During the trans-Atlantic crossing, when out of range of shore based stations, the balloon’s APRS beacon will operate on the International Space Station (ISS) packet digipeater frequency of 145.825 MHz.

The balloon payload package weighs only about 5 ounces and contains a high altitude GPS tracking system and a 144 MHz FM APRS Amateur Radio transmitter. To conserve weight and battery life, no camera equipment will be on board. The maximum altitude is expected to be above 19 miles, with horizontal speeds between 100 and 150 miles per hour.

You can track the progress of the flight online by entering the payload call sign KT5TK-11. Those in the southern and southeastern United States have a good chance of copying the APRS beacons directly as the balloon passes nearby.

The APRS telemetry transmitter is frequency agile to cope with different APRS standards across the globe. The frequencies used will be:
USA:
144.390 MHz
mid-Atlantic:
145.825 MHz (International Space Station packet digipeater frequency)
Europe and beyond:
144.800 MHz

--Trevor Hawkins, M5AKA, AMSAT-UK

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