Competitions like the Global Space Balloon Challenge remind HAB enthusiasts that it is not just a pursuit for Americans and western Europeans. It is an activity that happens all round the world. Still, I was surprised and intrigued to be contacted by a team from Ukraine recently and wanted to know more about the state of high altitude ballooning in Ukraine. Serge Prakhov of Ukraine HAB (www.ukrhab.org and www.fb.com/ukrhab) was kind enough to give us an insight.
Serge said, “ High Altitude Ballooning is relatively small in Ukraine. The government launches radio sondes regularly at airports. On top of that there are several HAB operators including me (Callsign : UR5FSV), another operator (callsign UY0LL), and a school group calling themselves Nastixaerospace.
Gas is easy to obtain in Ukraine, and for the first flight I used Hydrogen and for the second helium. Helium 40ltrs bottle cost approximately 100 $US with delivery, based on conditions that empty bottle to be returned within 2 weeks. Balloons have to be bought abroad as there is no much HAB activity yet in Ukraine.
For both flights we used trackers broadcasting in APRS and RTTY modes with UKHAS protocol. They worked really well and we were able to recover both flights.”