After our first trip to Belgium earlier this year launching frites with Radio Contact, we were very excited to have the opportunity to go back, this time with Universal Music to launch the new Metallica album to space! The plan was to play the album (before the official release!) through a speaker in the payload and get a real time view of the album playing in space. With visions of endless chips, chocolate and beer, Dan and Alex set off at the crack of dawn for the long drive down to Brussels. Upon arriving we met up with our fantastic point of contact with Universal, Julien, for a quick beer then it was hotel room prep for the big day!
Weather conditions on the day were anything but perfect but for a live launch you just have to crack on, with our experience we can manage a launch in just about any conditions. Launching from the roof of Het Laatste Nieuws just outside Brussels, the wind was so strong the balloon was pulling almost horizontal when it was fully inflated! To add to the ‘metal’ factor of this launch, Dan managed to cut his hand on the rope and gave the Metallica payload a very unique christening. After a tricky but successful launch, the balloon was in the air and Dan and Alex were on the road to the border with Luxembourg through the beautiful Belgian Ardenne.
Every element of the tracking ran smoothly, the radio system performing admirably in the soaking rain and violent winds, and the payload guided us to a small forest near the town of Gouvy. Incredibly, the mini speaker in the payload was still playing at full blast three hours after launching and led us right to the tree the payload had landed in. The very, very tall tree the payload had landed in. After several hours of stressful phone calls and using translators to communicate our problem to arboriculteurs, we found a very friendly tree surgeon who was willing to travel 100 kilometres to help us out!
All in all, another successful launch. We even found our new favourite beer, the “Kasteel Tripple” which is the strength of wine and goes down as smooth as a Bradfield Breweries Blonde!