We're excited to share that we performed 3 launches with <10g each of Cooling Clouds from near Reno, Nevada weekend before last.
Out of an abundance of caution, we provided advanced notice and received OKs to launch from both the Federal Aviation Administration and Reno International Airport. 2 balloons included tracking for location (including altitude up to ~6km), with a third solely balloon + sulfur dioxide. Flight paths roughly aligned with our forecasts, and we even retrieved some video (including the photo above). To our pleasant surprise, we were able to recover both the tracking devices.
Route of first balloon. Raw data (minus near landing point).
Route of second balloon. Raw data (minus near landing point).
While we're very happy with these launches, we have some important improvements to make for the next ones. Most critically: our onboard high-altitude GPS failed to capture readings. Based on our data from Spot transceivers, we infer deployment height of 19.5km+. But, readings became sporadic above 12km. Because we cannot definitively confirm altitude of >20km, we are not counting either of the tracked balloons as fulfilling paid Cooling Credits orders.
We did fulfill one order: a friend who is also a customer joined us and self-launched the balloon without tracking. They decided to count this as fulfilling their order of 1 Cooling Credit: first paid deployment done!
I'm excited to improve the telemetry for our next launches, and I'm confident that I'll be able to confirm deployment at >20km within a few more launches.
In spite of being the most huggable objects in the sky, many people have been nervous about balloons lately. Fortunately, aviation officials kept clear heads and were examples of government working to facilitate safe, small-scale, innovative experimentation. Upwards!