Balloon cluster goes up up and away

first_imgSomewhere in Skamania County, an unmanned balloon cluster slipped its high-tech leash Sunday.“We hope somebody finds it and gives us a call,” said Joe Barbera, a member of the team that launched the helium balloon cluster.Actually, they launched it twice: once from the Fargher Lake area north of Battle Ground, and again from a forest clearing.After the team’s next launch, Barbera figures he’ll be in a much better position to monitor the June 21 flight. He will be sitting in a lawn chair harnessed to more than 40 surplus weather balloons.So even though they don’t know what happened to the test flight, “It’s full-speed ahead on the manned one,” Barbera said Monday afternoon.On that flight, Barbera is hoping to better a couple of cluster-ballooning feats by sailing more than 240 miles and staying aloft for more than 14 hours.In Sunday’s unmanned flight, “The whole idea was to develop procedures,” Barbera saidThey also had to deal with some unexpected developments.The initial launch Sunday was delayed when one of the three main balloons failed; they replaced it with a test balloon that had about half the lifting power of the original.last_img read more