"America's OTHER Space Program"

PongSat Mission Away 24

 Mission Results


The Away 24 was a ‘High Rack’ Mission. A ‘High Rack’ is a stack of foam shelves held together with a carbon fiber frame. Equipment is mounted on the shelves and the entire package is carried aloft by a single weather balloon. At peak altitude the balloon is released and the ‘High Rack’ descends by parachute.

January in the high Nevada desert is always a bit chilly. The entire Black Rock lake bed was covered in snow. The launch was conducted from an flat out crop that over looks the lake bed 300 feet above the desert floor.

Away 24 lifted off Saturday, January 17, 2004. On launch the vehicle zoomed up at 1000 feet per minute and continued at that rate to peak altitude. The flight was excellent. The only glitches were in the imaging systems. Both the video and the still camera system had power failures shortly into the flight. This mission tested systems designed for the Ascender airship.  Sixty PongSat experiments were on board. The PongSat experiments ranged from materials testing to a solar panel effectiveness at high altitude experiment.

The burst of the balloon was observed by the team through a telescope. Retrieval was it’s own adventure. The vehicle landed far from any accessible road. A recovery team made a three hour bouncing, sliding off road ride followed by a nine hour hike guided by GPS. After experiencing darkness, 27 degree temperature, mud, snow and two wolf packs Away 24 was recovered.





Mission Name

Away 24

Date of Mission

January 17th, 2004


Black Rock Desert, NV, USA

Total Flight Duration                   

2 hours 15 minutes

Distance from Launch to Touchdown               

31 nautical miles

Altitude at Launch Site                   

1422.0 meters  (4665 feet)

Maximum Altitude (GPS reported)

100,700 feet

Minimum Temperature

-69 C (-92 F)

                   a24camp.jpg (33468 bytes)

                                                           Snow on the lake bed.


a24rack.jpg (33321 bytes)

Away 24 High Rack ready for flight.

a24box.jpg (40507 bytes)

  a24schools.jpg (23519 bytes)

Experimenter names on the stablizer fins.


                   a24solar.jpg (11015 bytes)

                    Solar powered PongSats!


a24balloon.jpg (15974 bytes)



a24inair.jpg (11149 bytes)



Back to the PongSat home page





This page was last edited on March 11, 2004
Email comments to jpowell@jpaerospace.com
Copyright© 1998 - 2004 JP Aerospace. All Rights Reserved.