Multiverse Blog

Karin Hauck
/ Categories: In-Focus

Retrieving Our Space Balloon Payload

[Today's Multiverse Guest Blogger is one of the teen interns in our NASA NOVAS program. The interns created and sent an experimental balloon to the edge of space! The last blog entry was from Tanesha, describing the launch. This entry is from Brandon, describing the eventful retrieval of our space balloon payload after it safely parachuted down to Earth.]

It was hot out. And very dusty. We had just eaten pizza, (I was still hungry, LOL), and we were all psyched to retrieve the payload. We drove into the Carnegie SVRA (State Vehicular Recreation Area). We had two vehicles. The first vehicle Steve was driving with Leitha and six other interns was stopped at the entrance by four rangers. Steve explained that we had a payload somewhere on their property. He knew that because of his GPS tracker that showed him the location. The rangers took a look and determined exactly where they would need to go to find the payload. One of the guys, (Taylor), was willing to drive to the location on an ATV.
But there was a catch; there were only two extra seats on said ATV (and Steve had to ride along, so there was really only one seat left). Then Dan had an idea. He was gonna think of a number between one and a hundred, and whoever guessed closest got to go. I guessed seventy-six. The number was seventy-five. I was thinking of 76, the gas station. (good thing I was on the drivers’ side, amirite?). So Taylor gave Steve an extra-large biker helmet, I got a large, which was apparently still a tiny bit small, (it was kinda tight on me wee skull…and it was pushing my cheeks into my eyes...)
aerial view of fields and trees

Me giving the thumbs-up.

and Dan handed me a film camera. I sat in the passenger seat and Steve rode in the back part, (kinda like the bed of a truck), next to a yellow stretcher. Everyone was cheering and clapping when we got in the ATV.
aerial view of fields and trees

Us in the ATV.

I felt kinda tense when he took off, and a lot of dust was kicking up.
aerial view of fields and trees

Taking off in the ATV.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get any sweet footage of the ATV ride; it was way too dusty. Plus, I was holding onto my phone in my pocket with one hand and to dear life with the other, (there was a convenient handle on the inside of the roll cage). Along the way, we stopped to let a few bikers ride by, who offered waves, thumbs-ups, and nods. When we got to a pretty level point a few minutes later, Taylor stopped the vehicle, and we all got out to check the GPS tracker that Steve had. The GPS transmitter was getting signals, but it was still a ways away. So we got back in and drove a little lower, near some high hills. It was shady, dusty, rocky, and shrubby. The trail to the payload was too narrow to ride the ATV up to retrieve it, so we had to walk. Walk. When we got near the signal, it was reading up a hill covered in dry shrubbery. Taylor, Steve, and I started climbing a steep, rocky, hill, (which I totally wimped out of...I’m still kinda mad at myself about it…), which I “couldn’t climb”, so I handed the camera off to Steve, and he went with Taylor to find the payload.
aerial view of fields and trees

With the payload.

I don’t really know how long I stood there, (booooo), but it felt like a while. Then Steve and Taylor held up the bright orange box. So they came back down, we walked up to the ATV, and we rode back, Steve holding the payload. We made it back to the rest of the group, met by clapping and high-fives. Then we all took group pictures, (one or so with Taylor), and we gathered around the box to eat the Space Starbursts, (cherry FTW!!!), which were cold and hard.
aerial view of fields and trees

Retrieving the Starbursts payload!

aerial view of fields and trees

Our team and the successful retrieval.

We thanked Taylor, he left, we put the payload in the backseat of Dan’s car, and we went home...
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