Project Overseer is Bruin Spacecraft Group’s high altitude balloon, comprised of systems, payload, recovery, and tracking subteams. This year’s balloon was named Proton—our first launch, and a test for future missions. I worked on the recovery team. Our job was essentially (1) researching and determining the optimal launch site/time—Castaic, CA—and (2) string management for the payload train (balloon, parachute, housing).

String management
String management, prior to launch. Note the brightly colored parachute on the left, and the red/blue payload on the right.

String management
One of our last glimpses of Proton.

W6YRA, the ham radio club, led tracking of the balloon through the day, obtaining data on temperature, weather, and ascent/descent rate. They also did a wonderful writeup of the launch and chase!

Unfortunately, the day of launch didn’t go smoothly, as we lost several hours due to some last-minute troubleshooting. Additionally, we weren’t able to recover our payload—for all I know, it’s still on the Marine Corps base at Twentynine Palms. There’s a lot we have to learn about preparation, communication between subsystems, and managing last minute crises.

The team
The team! I’m on the far right.