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Pictures from the second flight of MSAM1 in June 1994
TopHat in Antarctica

This shows the balloon about 1 minute after the beginning of inflation. The top plate is still being held down by two NSBF staff members (notice the two large valves, used to help control float altitude).

 inflation of  balloon

The balloon is pictured about 15 minutes after the beginning of inflation. The sun is shining through the thin balloon material; one of the two helium fill lines arcs across the foreground.

 balloon starting to rise
The large metal spool that was holding the balloon down has just been released, and the inflated "bubble" begins to rise. Note that the balloon is inflated to less than 1% of its total volume, to allow for expansion during ascent.  balloon released
Balloon Rising. A few seconds after the spool was released, the balloon continues skyward. The arc descending from the bubble is uninflated balloon material. balloon rising
The moment of truth. The jaws of the launch vehicle ("Tiny Tim") have just opened, releasing the gondola. gondola released
A few seconds after release, the gondola nicely floated past the setting Texas sun. gondola floating  past setting sun
The MSAM crew back in the highbay. Gondola control and real-time data analysis are performed here. This picture was taken about 1 hour into ascent, while the balloon is passing through the tropopause. control room
Descent. This picture was taken from the chase plane, and shows the gondola coming down on its parachute.
gondola  descent
The gondola has just landed (small bright object below parachute). In the next second, the parachute is separated from the package by a radio-fired squib. gondola  landed
And this is what we call a gentle landing! The 4-layer cardboard wheel was one of the gondola crushpads, intended to absorb most of the kinetic energy of the payload upon landing. You can see the gondola sheared off the crushpad after touchdown; however, it did not topple over. gondola sheared off the crushpad
No problem dude.  Jason holding up gondola giving the thumbs up sign.