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GIBAS III Captain's Logs

Captain’s Log
Saturday, November 5, 2016

As we launched the Gibas III this evening, I could not help but feel an impending sense of optimism. The weather was cooperating with few clouds and barely any sign of wind. The sun was beginning to set, and the crescent moon had just made its appearance in the evening sky. Although we had gotten a few questionable glares and unfriendly gestures from pedestrians while driving up the gravel path to Radar Hill, many of them had joined us on the hill top to watch the ascent.

Initially, the balloon was overinflated, reaching its intended vertical lift well before the estimated amount of helium was used. My senior officers and I spent several minutes slowly releasing gas from the balloon and re-measuring, while also judging from past launches the size and feel of the balloon’s upward pull. Once First Officer Berry, Senior Field Specialist Sprunger and I were all in agreement and comfortable with the size and lift of the balloon, we proceeded to attach the craft and prepare for launch. After careful consideration in activating the camera, the newly implemented audio beacon was turned on and a piercing, continuous beep emanated from the craft.

The countdown began, but the craft had become tangled its own ropes, and the countdown had to be stopped to make corrections. Once released, the craft ascended nearly strait up. We could see the white orb ascending for much longer than previous launches. We marveled at the moon and a small rainbow that had appeared in the clouds, anticipating what our returned footage would look like. As we watched the orb become a dot and eventually a flicker, I chatted with our unexpected spectators about previous missions and our hopes for the Gibas III.

Because the craft hadn’t traveled far from the launch site during ascent, the last known position is still recorded above Dairy Lane, the street taken to get to Radar Hill. With the low winds it is unlikely we will have to travel nearly as far for recovery as with previous crafts. With the beacon crying out in the night, perhaps the craft will even be discovered by an ally before we can get to it.

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