Infinity-1 returns to Earth with a splash!


After a successful launch and flight that was on course and on schedule, all was going well with Project Infinity until the last 15 minutes of its 2 hour flight to the edge of space. Having lost communication with the GPS systems after the balloon went into the blackout zone above 60,000ft, the signal returned around a 90 minutes later indicating that the balloon had burst, parachute had deployed and the probe was on course to land a little off target towards the Ardee/Dundalk area. With the chase car already on the outskirts of Dundalk, the probe sent signal showing it had drifted towards Dunany Point indicating that winds below 5000ft had taken it off course towards the Irish Sea. A few minutes later, further info was received to show the wind had carried it back towards the coast but it had splashed down in Dundalk Bay around 1.5km from land.

An hour passed showing that the probe was afloat and drifting in the bay but without access to a boat or binoculars it could not be located and the search was abandoned. With only 24hours of GPS signalling available, it was arranged for Dundalk Search & Rescue to take to the water but due to deteriorated weather conditions and mist on the bay, the signal was lost around 8 hours before the crew reached the area at which point all contact was lost. After 2 days searching the coastline and the bay area by boat, it was assumed that the probe had sank or, more probably, drifted into the Irish Sea and the crew decided to take to social media to alert people in the area to keep a look out for the probe. A poster campaign was also launched with leaflets being handed out and erected at public areas along the coastline and in shops and other businesses on the bay.

Using the coastguard and VHF radio, fisherman in the area also received notification that ‘meteorological equipment’ had been lost in the bay. Whilst it had still not been located at this point, locals with knowledge of the waters indicated that it was probably carried out to the Irish Sea by winds on the surface and the currents would most probably take it North potentially ending up further up the coast or in Scotland.

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