• Andrew Tubbiolo

    Oh man, that’s H2 they’re playing with. I’m kinda surprised they don’t have the balloon lined with metal wire that’s shorted to ground. They just got Hindenburged, a static charge no doubt built up as the H2 leaked then arced and ignited the gas. I wonder if the City of Tucson understood that they were going to play with hydrogen. That’s a totally different game from helium.

  • It looks like there was a folding on one side of the balloon followed by a small white puff on the top just prior to the explosion.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes, launching fire bombs over urban areas is not wise.

  • Ignacio Rockwill

    Did the static charge accumulate from folds/creases in the balloon rubbing together? I saw what @dougspace:disqus saw – folding (perhaps in response to wind gust), white puff, boom.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I really can’t conclusively say either way. However I think the ignition source was static charge because of the period of venting after the tear. I have a hunch the NTSB will get involved, they’ll release a public statement of fact within a few weeks then after the investigation is done they’ll release a public statement on the failure.

  • Why mess with hydrogen when helium is available and totally non-flammable? Yeah, there’s an argument to be made about “high performance” of hydrogen, but helium failures are totally benign compared to hydrogen.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Why again are balloon people being covered on a space forum?

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Well let’s see what Tucson International Airport, Raytheon, and Vector think about hydrogen flights going on so close to them. The underwriters of all those airliners are going to have something to say in the coming weeks.

  • ThomasLMatula

    One of the newspapers is reporting that Raytheon works on missiles in the plant they have there. The finished missiles are stored in a bunker nearby. The launch site is part of the buffer zone for it. Now it follows if Worldview is filling balloons with hydrogen at the site they most also have a storage site or trucks with it nearby…

  • ThomasLMatula

    The Arizona Independent reports it happened as they were deflating it.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Raytheon makes a LOT of missiles at that plant. There’s also a lot of F-16’s at the AZ ANG portion of KTUS. There’s also Hamilton Aviation chock full of airliners under repairs and disassembly. Very close by to World View is the Pima Community College Airframe and Powerplant school. When I drove by I saw two trailers full of what I assumed were He gas bottles, but maybe they were hydrogen? If so, they were stored on the north side of the lot close to Raytheon. Hydrogen is a new game. Lot’s of industry and their underwriters will have something to say.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    This incident gets more interesting all the time.

  • therealdmt

    A deflating incident

  • therealdmt

    Welp, cancel my reservation

  • Paul451

    That’s not a fold, it’s a tear.

  • Kirk

    From this video it doesn’t look so bad to me. It burns cleanly and is presumably out in just a few seconds. Did any burning debris make it to the ground? Are there any videos showing the effects of the blast?

  • Stu

    because it is peripherally related, mildly intersting and Doug wants to post about it (and given it is his site, I’d say that is his prerogative).

  • ThomasLMatula

    If they were not launching and just inflating it to test they could have probably got by with NOTAM. But again, H2 is a different game then testing with Helium or just compressed air,

  • ThomasLMatula

    Unknown, but Raytheon indicated damage to their missile plant from the shock wave. Workers thought something exploded at the plant according to news reports.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I’m up running two telescopes on the night shift. 🙂 What are you doing up so late/early? …. Yeah H2 is a totally different story. Look at that conflagration rise into the air. Not good for me and my little Cessna to fly through. I’m hoping that the Tucson tower would be routing traffic around it. You can bet I’ll be contacting the tower to raise this point.

  • ThomasLMatula

    They must have a very tight margin if they are trying to reduce costs using Hydrogen instead of Helium. But it’s a false economics. Although it may appear to lower the cost the increase expense of handling safely and accidents like this more than eliminates any savings.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Went to bed early after a long drive to Vegas from Texas and just got up to read a bit. Yes, if they are playing with H2 they need to keep air traffic away. Shock waves and small aircraft don’t mix well.

    What observatory are you at?

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Kitt Peak National Observatory. Running a .9m and 1.8m telescope. … Vegas! Were you able to see the SX launch plume this evening?

  • ThomasLMatula

    I forgot all about it, but a friend posted a video on FB wondering what it was. It’s great they had a successful year.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    It was a rhetorical question

  • Spacetech

    Conflagration……Thank You! 🙂

  • Robert Sutton

    Reminds me in primary school we use to rub balloons on clothes then stick them on a wall
    Of course there was no hydrogen in them(probably couldn’t afford it)