As part of the 2013 Yuma Hamfest, the Arizona Near Space Research (ANSR) group launched a "near space" balloon from the fairgrounds. Near space is that region of the atmosphere above 60,000 feet but below the accepted altitude of space, 328,000 feet. Near space is far more like earth orbit than the surface of the earth, where air pressure reaches 99% of a vacuum and air temperatures drop to -60°F or colder. Cosmic radiation is over 100 times greater than at sea level. The 1600-gram weather balloon filled with hydrogen (seen at right) carried a recovery parachute and payload packages aloft at 09:00:10 MST. The payloads consisted of Fast Scan Amateur Television (FSTV), a still camera/CW beacon, a student camera payload, a cross-band repeater, and three Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS) tracking beacons. The jet stream cooperated and the balloon was carried east, rising to a maximum altitude of 86705.8 feet, approximately 16½ miles, to "near space" (be sure to see the last photo at the bottom of this page). In near space conditions, with the extremely low air pressure, the balloon swells to about 60 feet in diameter until it bursts. The payload package then returns back to earth with the recovery parachute. The balloon was tracked with APRS with the balloon's position displayed on a screen at the Yuma Hamfest. The payload package came to rest on the ground at 10:48:14 MST, for a total flight time of just over one hour, 48 minutes. The recovery of the payloads was accomplished at about 11:15 MST, with the recovery teams able to drive within 0.2 mile of the payload. The package was recovered about 200 yards from the base of the Mohawk Mountains just south of Interstate 8, 51.9 miles from the launch point. The cross band repeater and all beacons performed normally. The FSTV payload provided the ground station with continuous video through burst and most of descent. There were many great pictures from the still cameras. The photo at the right was taken with seconds of the balloon being released from the Yuma Hamfest.