Headlines > News > JP Aerospace Flies Two Test Missions

JP Aerospace Flies Two Test Missions

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Sat Nov 11, 2006 10:08 pm
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JP Aerospace flew two balloon platforms last Saturday.

Flying two missions on the same morning was a real challenge for the team. Managing two vehicles at once is a critical step toward future operations in the upper atmosphere.

A high wind launch system was used for both liftoffs. The system consists of giant envelopes containing the balloons and tear panels to release them. The seven to twelve knot winds would have meant a scrubbed flight without the new system. We are improving the system with each flight. We hope to achieve all-weather balloon operations.

The platforms were the twenty-ninth and thirtieth in the Away series of missions. Each platform is carried aloft by two large weather balloons. Away 29 carried one hundred and ten PongSat student experiments. It also took 2640 photographs of sponsor logos with the Earth in the background. Six cameras were on short booms looking back at billboards mounted on the vehicle. Away 29 reached a peak altitude of 95,100 feet. It landed ninety-six miles downrange.

Away 30 carried 570 PongSats. Away 30 was also testing telemetry systems to be used on JP Aerospace’s new high altitude airship. After liftoff, data from the vehicle showed the climb rate was 250 feet per minute. This was well below what is needed to continue the flight. At 17,600 feet, the command was sent to release the balloons. Away 30 landed by parachute six miles downrange.

We are very excited about the missions. Many procedural changes and new techniques allowed us to do two launches in less time it normally takes to do one. Each mission is a real shakedown of systems and techniques for performing work at the edge of space.

We still have a lot of work to do. Away 30 didn’t reach its altitude goal and the Away 29 landing site was farther downrange than we like. These flights gave us two more bits of experience under our belts and are another step down the road toward Airship to Orbit.

Our next flight will be in January 2007. We will be conducting plasma drag experiments at 120,000 feet. The next flight with space for PongSats and high altitude ads will be in April 2007. Space for both is starting to fill up.

JP Aerospace is an independent space program staffed by volunteers dedicated to bringing space to everyone.

More information and pictures available at www.jpaerospace.com.

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