QMAP On the Launch Pad

    launch vehicle
    Riggers preparing  for launch. 
    filling helium
    Mark and Amber filling the cryostat with helium before launch
    amber and mark motorcycling
    Getting around the launch pad

    More waiting... Once the science team has finished preparing the exeriment and gone "hands off" there is a lot of waitingfor just the right conditions for a successful launch.

    Tom, Amber, and Mark sitting on launch vehicle's tire

    Beginning to inflate the balloon ... Helium fill lines are visible going to the balloon on the right and left. Stretching to the right along the ground is the remainder of the balloon.

    Looking like a real baloon now - helium fill lines coming off to left and right are now clearly visible as is the spool which will be released at launch..

    The balloon just before launch...

    launch pad
    Amber and Tom sitting on the launch vehicle waiting for the OK to go. Hanging below the QMAP gondola is the NSBF SIP (Support Instrumentation Package), ballast, and crush pads (brown feet) which are designed to cushion the landing.
    launch pad
    Mark standing in front of the launch vehicle's really big tire

    Mark finally let me drive his bike...

    He even let me drive him around (or at least pose for the picture)

    Amber getting lowered into the telescope  in the high bay for last minute work 

    The balloon begins to take shape.

    The balloon - almost fully inflated.

    ... and we're away! What looks like a very small amount of helium at ground level expands to fill the balloon at the float altitude of 100,000 ft.