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Here are the latest happenings at JPA              


PongSats on TV!
KXTV, the Sacramento ABC news station, aired their story about PongSat.  They have the video available, (streaming),
at their site.  It includes some great scenes  from Away 26.  A big thank you goes out to Dale Schornack at News 10!


Model update:  The model of the new Ascender has a nose!

Recycling is not just for cans.

To save time and money we are recycling the fins from an earlier ML rocket for use on one of the new ones.
The older ML suffered a crack in the airframe on the last landing.   The fins, however, are in excellent condition.
The fins are carbon with a foam core and attach to the rocket with Kevlar.  Refurbishing involves band sawing
the fin off the airframe then grinding off the kevlar then sanding off the finish.


Sometimes the projects are big and other times they're small.  We're building a scale model of the next Ascender. 
Only the main envelopes part of the model are complete, (as in the real version).  The model as it is now is 23 inches
long, (each arm), and is made of fiberglass over foam.  Next for the model is the nose, tail tips and the cross strut.


We've begun to experiment with different rack designs for the Away 28 roller mission.  Even though it looks big
this rack weighs just over two pounds. 

Another Away 26 pic:

Inspecting the rigging before launch.


Today an ABC news crew came to the office and did an interview for a story about the PongSat program.  As soon as I
know when they're going to air it I'll post the who, where and when.   The reporter is very good and and always makes
me feel at ease, (however, it could be that I'm just a big ham).

A great deal of progress was made today on the design of the next Ascender.  This vehicle is going to be cool....

T-minus ten hours till the next build session.


This weekends build session was filled with cleaning, buffing and polishing of the rocket airframe mandrel. 
Ah the glamour of space... The mandrel is used to make the body of the rocket.

We're considering making the airframe of the next MicroSat Launcher (ML) Rocket out of fiberglass instead of carbon
fiber.  This will save a few dollars.  Fiberglass costs just a fraction of carbon fiber.   The mission this rocket will be
flying will not need as much performance.  The first four Mach Glider launches will be under 20,000 feet.   The much
heaver weight of the fiberglass is a good trade for cost on these flights.  The Block1 ML, (two built), had a fiberglass
airframe.  This will be a Block 4 ML with a Block 1 airframe, however, it won't have the upgrades planned for the Block 5
rocket.  Block 4.5 anyone?

One mission never seems to end before the beginning of the next one.  The team took the antennas off the van and
started reassembling them.  They were still up there from the Away 26 mission.  The antennas have become a little
battered and worn from these last missions.  Time to retune.  Antenna tuning is a task that some people love and
others just hate.  Good progress was made last Saturday, however, tuning is likely to continue for the next couple of
build sessions.

More Away 26 pics:

Parallax has supported JPA for over 30 missions.                                              PongSats!!

Sunburst at the Earth's ceiling.


Away 27

There is a new mission in the mix.  The spread spectrum telemetry system on Away 26 preformed well enough
to show that we're heading in the right direction, but, not well enough to for the demands of the roller deployed
balloon mission.   The original Away 27 mission has been bumped to Away 28.   The new Away 27 mission will
carry the upgraded spread spectrum telemetry system and qualify it for more complex flights.

Away 27 will be a small vehicle, under five pounds.  In addition to the telemetry system, there will be PongSats
and at least one digital camera on board.

We expect to fly Away 27 mid summer.

Away 28

                                                              Away 28                                                                Dark Sky Station with rubber balloons.

Away 28 is a technology development mission for the Dark Sky Station (DSS).  The last DSS we flew used round
rubber balloons like those on Away 26.  The next DSS will use plastic balloons like those used on Away 25.  Having
ten tall balloons all streaming high above the station has many problems, not the least of which is tangling.  To avoid
all this flapping around the balloons will be kept on rollers.  During takeoff the balloons will only be a small bubble
of helium held low on the frame.  As the balloon expands during the climb the roller will unroll more balloon material.

Away 28 will test a single roller deployment system.  This technology will help open the way for the extremely large
Dark Sky Stations to come.

New ML Rocket

This fall we will start deploying Mach Gliders from the MicroSat Launcher (ML) rocket, (see the balloon deployment
video on the video page).   Time to build another rocket!  Last Saturday we pulled out the airframe mandrel and the
molds.  Some minor repairs need to be done on the carbon ovens an and the jigs and we'll be ready start building.

                                                       Some of the MLs carbon fiber parts fresh out of the molds. (ML #3).

This rocket will be the last of the Block 4 vehicles before moving to the larger Block 5 ML.

March-April what's new page.

Februarys what's new page.

Januarys what's new page.

  Back to the JPA home page.

This page was last edited on July 12, 2005
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