For a detailed report on the launch, see http://n1vg.net/balloon/.
A quick summary: winds prevented the launch on Saturday morning, so the launch was set for Sunday morning. Winds and not enough camping gear prevented my husband and I from spending a second night in the tent in the desert, so we spent the night at a motel in Barstow and spent some of Sunday morning tracking the balloon.
Tracking was interesting, as we had no internet coverage and intermittent cell phone coverage. We ended up talking to my mother, living in Virginia, who was watching the progress on the web at home. The balloon landed in a perfect spot (less than a mile off a road in a dry lake bed), but alas it wasn’t really on the road to Vegas, so my husband and I said goodbye and headed up highway 15 to get in a day and a half of playing tourist before my conference starts this morning.
Stats: the balloon reached an altitude of at least 106,000 feet, and took more than 1000 pictures. Again, see the website for complete details and all of the pictures. The pictures are just in a directory now, but should be in some type of photo album for easier browsing soon. Thanks to WA8LMF for providing another way to track the balloon, including a plot on the map that showed the path and elevation of the balloon. Not quite as nice as Tufte’s favorite map of Napoleon’s march, but much more useful when one is wanting to see the path of the balloon. The path is no longer active on the website, but I’ll be contacting the webmaster to see if any screenshots were taken and post them here if I can obtain them.
Checking my email Sunday morning was an interesting experience. None of us had had any way to update the web page showing the launch information, so people thought that they had missed it or that the tracking wasn’t working correctly. I didn’t realize how many people were interested in the launch until there were messages on three or four different mailing lists (including that of a competitor to the product my brother manufactures for tracking) asking about the launch, stating their own site had had several hundred hits looking for the balloon, etc.
And to tie all of this in to something related to search engine marketing, web publication, and the like..I look forward to attending the PubCon sessions regarding website analytics and the time later this week that I’ll spend looking over the Google Analytics and server-based statistics. The page for the balloon was only put up about three days before the launch of the balloon, and when I left town Friday as the second most visited site on the page. For PubCon, I feel like I did when I first started applying to graduate school. I’ve been doing things on my own, learning as I go, and now it’s time to use what I’ve learned by trial and error and see how my understanding compares to the experts and see how I can improve things. Hope to meet some of you this week in Vegas!