Today was the last day of the 2012 WIA annual conference, being hosted in Mildura.
At this event the Project Horus balloon team released two balloons, one with a cross band FM repeater on board.
The cross band repeater balloon, Horus 26, was released just after 8:00 am local, and I spent the next four hours watching the live APRS tracking and listening for the output on 2m. I started to hear some weak signal as the balloon rose past 25,000 m altitude and a fleeting voice was distinguishable as it passed through 35,000 m. The balloon popped shortly after and it begin its descent back to earth.
For a while it looked like the payload would finish up in a lake but once the parachute was being blown by the upper winds it quickly passed over the lake and, according to Google Maps, landed in a lightly vegetated paddock about 140 km from its launch site.
While listening on 7.070 MHz, one of the nominated HF chase frequencies, I was surprised to hear the special event call sign VK102WIA. This had been advertised as being on air from a paddle boat from 11:00 am. I worked then at 10:46 so I’m guessing they were ahead of schedule. Fine copy and another special QSL on its way.