Space and astronomy news and information for the American Southwest. Coverage includes Vandenberg AFB rocket and missile launches.

Santa Barbara Near Space Balloon Recovered Successfully

Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club News Release

2011 July 18

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The near space balloon launched from West Beach in Santa Barbara on Saturday has been recovered. The Santa Barbara Natural History Museum, along with the Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club and the Santa Barbara Hackerspace, collaborated to build the craft, which carried a technology payload to an altitude of more than 93,000 feet above the Earth, where it captured images and dispatched flight telemetry information to ground stations throughout California.

“It was a long and exhausting day,” said Rod Fritz of the Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club (SBARC). “In the end, the thrill of visiting near space was well worth all of the effort. This was a great success for us. We learned a lot and know how to do an even better job next time.”

After assembling the payload and filling the balloon before about 50 excited onlookers, the team launched the one cubic foot near space probe at 11:24 a.m. It ascended straight up at 900 feet per minute. At around 20,000 feet, it turned north, and reached speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour as it soared northward. At 60,000 feet, it shifted to the west and continued to climb until it burst over Fellows, Calif. On its descent, it shifted to the north again, touching down at 2:00 p.m. after approximately 2 1/2 hours of flight. It ended up in an irrigation canal in Buttonwillow, Calif. narrowly avoiding the enormous power station and the associated web of electric lines that it passed over.

Throughout the craft’s flight, amateur radio stations received its radio telemetry and relayed position reports online and over the air. Using these reports and homing in on one of the transmitters after the landing, the recovery team was able to locate the payload just after 4:00 p.m. the same day. A complete flight summary is available at: High-resolution flight photos available for download and publication at:

SBARC is a non-profit public benefit corporation organized to promote education for persons interested in telecommunications, to disseminate information about scientific discoveries and progress in the field, and to train communicators for public service and emergency communications. SBARC also encourages and sponsors experiments in electronics and promotes the highest standards of practice and ethics in the conduct of communications.

Home | Site Map | Search | About | Contact

Copyright © 2011, Brian Webb. All rights reserved.