Eleven schools across the US launched helium-filled balloons carrying amateur radio payloads on October 9. The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum live-streamed the multiple launches. The balloons are trackable via ham radio on APRS (either 144.39 MHz FM or 144.34 MHz FM).
The lighter-than-air vehicles were intended to head east around the globe, although there’s no accounting for upper air currents. Altitudes were expected to be in the 20,000 – 25,000 foot range, with the balloons taking a few days to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Some of the balloons are already out over the Atlantic, and one, the KS1LAS-1 balloon, launched from Washington, was reported over the Mediterranean on October 14, moving at a speedy 69 MPH at an altitude of some 40,400 feet.
The K4NVA-1 balloon launched from Northern Virginia was reported on October 11 just east of St. Johns, Newfoundland, at just over 23,100 feet, moving at 62 MPH. Others are still over North America and/or not heading in the intended direction. The NW3DC-1 and NW3DC-2 balloons, sent up from Washington, DC, were last reported on launch day close together just off Maryland’s Eastern Shore.