How Do Mesoloft Launches Work?

One the questions we get pretty frequently is "how do your launches work?". The simple answer to that is we fill large 6ft diameter latex balloons with helium, attach the spar carrying our hardware as well as the shroud that contains the ashes, and then we let go. Of course that is simplifying the process quite a bit but that is the basics.

The Mesoloft team filling one of our latex balloons

The Mesoloft team filling one of our latex balloons

The first thing we do is fill our balloons. The balloons are made from latex very similar in thickness to latex gloves. For a typical launch about 300 cubic feet of helium is required. The process to fill the balloons with the helium takes about 10-15 minutes. While one of our technicians fills the balloons the others are walking through our launch checklists ensuring the cameras are on, gps is on and receiving signal, cameras are at the right angle, and our hardware that controls the release of the ashes is prepped and ready to go. All of this hardware is housed in or on what we call our spar, which you can see is the black rectangle shape in the picture below. Hanging below the spar is the shroud which a one time use container which houses the ashes that will be scattered. Once the balloon is full we seal it and attach it to our spar. We are now ready for launch! 

Image showing the spar, cameras, and shroud before launch

Image showing the spar, cameras, and shroud before launch

On-board camera view of the launch

On-board camera view of the launch

Once we let go the balloon will climb at a rate of about 1,000-1,200 feet per minute. During the course of the balloons journey upwards it will experience temperatures of -40°F and wind speeds greater than 100mph. The extreme temperatures and winds are typically experienced 30,000-40,000 feet above the ground. At 30,000 feet the balloon is above 70% of the Earth's atmosphere. The balloon will continue to rise experiencing very little wind for another 40,000-60,000 feet where it will reach its peak altitude. During this final ascent the balloon experiences very little wind and where you begin to see the curvature of the Earth. The range for our ash releases is typically 80,000-100,000 feet, this is predetermined before launch and is a function of weather and the quantity of ashes being scattered. At this altitude the ashes are above 99% of the Earth's atmosphere as known as the edge of space. 

Animation of the Earth's winds at 30,000 feet

Animation of the Earth's winds at 30,000 feet

The release of ashes at 80,000 feet above Earth. You can see the ashes start to scatter at the end of the video

The release of ashes at 80,000 feet above Earth. You can see the ashes start to scatter at the end of the video

The balloons we use keep expanding as they climb in altitude. This is due to the pressure difference between the upper atmosphere and the helium inside the balloon. This will eventually cause the balloon to burst. Fortunately it is easily predictable when a balloon will burst and therefore we can ensure we've released the ashes before the balloon burst. In the video below you can see how turbulent the balloon bursts can be and therefore we've moved to a system that allows us to cut away from the balloon so that we start falling more gently.

Example of a balloon bursting 

After cutting away from the balloon the hardware starts to fall from the edge of space. It will fall very quickly until about 30,000 feet where the parachute will finally start to function due to the air finally being dense enough. The hardware will drift down under parachute until it reaches its final landing spot.

During the whole flight we have three redundant GPS systems that are relaying their location. Since we have their current location as well as predicted flight paths we are typically in the "neighborhood" of where the hardware will land. We then recover the hardware and ensure everything worked properly. 

Below is a an example using Google Earth of the path one of our balloons would take for a launch in Colorado. 

New Prices, Packages, and Launch Dates

The biggest news we are announcing is the dates and locations for our next Launch Campaign. Our next round of launches will be taking place January 15th-21st near Pueblo, Colorado. As of right now there are only 3 spots remaining! If you are interested in booking a Mesoloft launch now is the time to act. You can receive a $500 discount on either the Standard or Memorial Launch Package using this LINK. We will only be launching a limited number of customers until our next campaign in late spring/early summer. 

You are probably asking yourselves "what is a launch campaign?" Basically, due to the unpredictability of weather and more importantly the ever shifting winds at the edge of the atmosphere we have found performing launches in batches to be the most effective way to ensure reliability. This allows us to give our customers a launch date and location much further in advance. Each customer's launch is their own, a batch simply means we launch multiple individual balloons on the same day so that the balloons have similar flight paths (they land close together). This allows us to ensure our customers the prompt recovery of the videos of their loved one's ashes being released and scattered. In the video below you can see an example of the flight path of one our balloons from our announced launch location in Colorado. 

Lastly, we are excited to announce a restructuring of our pricing as well as announcing a new launch package. The new package we are announcing is called the Memorial Package ($5,250) which includes everything from our Standard Pack in addition to:

  • A Commemorative Photo Album, with select still photos from the launch and release
  • A Personalized Memorial Video, which can include customer provided pictures and videos in addition to footage from the launch and release of ashes 
  • A Blog Post, this will be posted on our website and written as memorial by one of our staff writers

We think these new items will really help the friends and families memorialize their loved one's and remember the unique way in which their ashes were scattered. As with all videos produced during our launches the videos can be provided privately or publicly whichever is the families desire. 




Kodiak's Story

Prince Albert of Kodiak

"Next to my son; Kodiak is the 'love of my life'; and a piece of my heart, if not most of it, went with him when he left this realm."

"Such a formal name for a best friend," Sonya observed; "most of the time I just called him Kodiak (Kodi for short), Baby Bear or Baby Beast". A registered Malamute weighing 160 pounds, he was a true gentle giant. Afraid of his own shadow, yet Kodi was loyal as can be. He was quite a "talker" too; but by the age of 13, he had lost his voice. "He would howl at anyone who would mistakenly sit in his huge leather chair," shared Sonya, quietly laughing; "and he wouldn't stop until they realized the error of their ways and got up. Between that, and our private chats each day, his voice slowly faded to a whisper and then was gone altogether." Kodiak also sired a litter of ten puppies. 

Sonya and Kodiak shared 15 years together before his death. "He even went on our honeymoon", she confided. There were many days where they'd spent every minute of every day together, and you can hear the gratitude in Sonya's voice when she speaks of his companionship. "I'm really thankful Baby Bear was with me during the darkest days of my life. In truth, I almost lost him from a stroke, right before I was diagnosed with triple negative, aggressive, invasive breast cancer on July 15th 2012."

She went on to confide the diagnosis was just one of many calamities that year. "My husband ended our marriage two weeks later, I was forced to close my 25-year old business in October of that year, and I entered a six-round series of chemotherapy five days before Christmas. Without Kodiak, life would have been very bleak; he stabilized my life and gave me unconditional love–at a time when life was beyond hard.

"The next year was no better; on March 12th, 2013, my only brother, Eric, died suddenly. Eric was a kind and gentle man who always wanted to help the underdog. How I wish he had been at my side during the next few months; when I had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, faced foreclosure, and had to move in with my mother (after being independent since I was 18!) Still I am so very grateful I had Kodiak to see me through it all (not to neglect my son and my parents, they were really supportive too). But there was no way I could have dealt with the life-altering events I've had without Baby Bear by my side."

“Why did you choose to honor Kodiak in this way?”

A member of the Mesoloft team is a client of mine, and as I cut his hair, he'd talk to me about what it is they do. I knew that Kodi was going to pass soon; so one day I asked him if they could release Kodiak's ashes in this way. It really was serendipity; and it seemed like the perfect way to pay tribute to my remarkable friend: as big as his heart; as big as the love we shared. In the end, it was even more perfect than I could ever imagine."

“How does knowing Kodi’s ashes are traveling the high winds comfort or otherwise affect you?”

"I can't describe how it feels to know he's all around me, falling to earth in far-flung corners of the globe. It's the ultimate way of returning to our source, of becoming 'one' with this beautiful planet. And it gives me a lot of joy to think how each dust mote I see in a ray of sunshine could be my best friend settling back to earth to become something fresh and new."

Kodiak 3.jpeg

Those of us with pets understand completely, and would probably agree with Sonya's observation: "If we're lucky, we bond with one pet in a lifetime that none can replace. It was as if, we had actually hung out before in a different or past life. I know it sounds crazy yet, it was just a feeling I always had the first moment I saw him."

"We will hang out again one day...I love you Baby Beast."
For more info visit our PETS page 

-Written by Kim Stacey