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Here are the latest happenings at JPA              


The Away 26 mission video is up on the video page.  It's a large file, 29 megs.  It shows a tour of the vehicle, the lift off, clips from the on board camera and the recovery.


Payload processing JPA style!  All 202 PongSats are being packed up to go back to their 300 builders.  The office is
covered with boxes, piles of mission data sheets, PongSat certificates, mission video tapes, Away 26 photo books and
lot and lots of bubble wrap.  The Star Wars action figures are ready to go on ebay and the carbon nanotubes and the
elephant are about to mailed off to there respective owners.  One of the payloads was picked up by the researchers
shortly after landing and they are already producing great data.


Check out the Away 26 mission page!  We've got some of the images up.  The video is still being
digitized.  It will be up soon.   We got some great video, it was a wild ride.

The PongSats are being sorted  and boxed.  They'll be ready to be shipped back to
 their experimenters in next two days.


Away 26 has flown!  Great mission, great recovery.  More details tomorrow.


It's midnight,  just hours before we leave for the desert and I'm tinkering.  Charging batteries, loading new PongSats, checking the oil in the comms van, there always seems to be hundreds of little things to do just before we roll.  Are the fill weights adjusted?  How about blank tapes in the van?  Is the mission paper work in order?  Did we pack the balloons? My personal nightmare is to arrive at the launch site without balloons...  I must admit that I love it, how many people get to fuss with spaceships in the middle of the night?


The weather looks great for next Saturdays lift off of Away 26.  The winds aloft sounding at the launch site show 113 knot winds at 40,000 feet.  It drops down to 5 knots at 100,000 feet.  This is perfect for the Away 26 test profile.  The temperature is down to -87 degrees F at around 60,000 feet, but, never really warms up.  Normally it warms up to a toasty -5 degrees F at 100,000 feet, but, not at the moment.   The telemetry systems don't mind the cold, however, the digital cameras get a bit touchy.  A little more insulation will be in order if the conditions hold.


Liquid Helium Ground Fill System

One of the ground support systems we are developing is the 'Ice Truck'.  The 'Ice Truck' will be a liquid helium transport and
ground inflation system.

A significant logistical challenge on many missions is the transportation and handling of gaseous Helium tanks.  Individual tanks are over 100 pounds each. 

The liquid helium ground fill system replaces approximately one hundred and ten helium tanks with one pickup truck mounted system.

The system consists of two large helium dewars mounted in a pickup truck.   The bed of the truck is covered by an insulated shell with an air conditioner unit.   The dewars are connected to a manifold in the tail of the truck.  The manifold connects to a three hundred foot long hose that is laid out on the ground behind the truck.  The liquid helium flashed from a liquid to a gas when it leave the dewar.  However the gas is still extremely cold.  By running the gas through the hose heat from the surrounding environment will radiate into the helium.  A series of fans blowing across the hose will regulate the temperature of the Helium.  The hose will is connected to a manifold.  The lines to the individual balloons and cell from be attached to this manifold.  Flow meters are used to provide a measured volume of gas.

This system can support Away missions and larger vehicle such as the 57 foot DSS or the 90 foot Ascender.

Much safer to transport.
Lower transportation costs.
Eliminates physical handling of tanks.
Develops and provides training for future in-flight liquid lifting gas handling.
Excellent sponsor opportunity.


Note:  Anyone who can draw a better truck than JP (most of the world, I imagine), can submit their efforts to JPA. 
The best one will merit a JPA Tee shirt. 


Next week we will have new pictures and video from Away 26.  Until then here's a panorama taken from Away 25 at 98,000 feet.


We head for the desert on May 21st for the flight of  Away 26.  Winter mission delays tend to try the patience of team and spectators alike.  It does, however, make the liftoff that much sweeter.

We been making modifications to the antenna stands for faster assembly in the field and have been tending to all the minor mods and fixes with the ground equipment that one finds during a deployment.


JPA gave a presentation on ATO and PongSats at the Space Access conference in Phoenix Arizona.  All the usual suspects were there along with some new faces.  The best part of the PongSat presentation is that I can throw Ping Pong balls at any hecklers. 

The weather has been a mess.  Funnel clouds have been dominating the weather reports today.  There's nothing sadder than the sight of a flight ready vehicle on the ground waiting for lift off, but it's all part of the game. 


The team went to the desert and had blue skies but no joy.   Shortly before lift off, after the balloons were inflated surface winds started to pick up.  The winds jumped to 15 to 20.  Way to high for launch.  We held hoping for a calm, but, it never came.   Watch this space for the reschedule.

Away 26 in the Black Rock desert.



The launch of Away 26 has been delayed due to weather.  Snow, rain and generally nasty conditions prevailed over
the launch site.  Watch this space for the new flight date.

The delay gave us the chance to get some upgrades and housekeep done on the ground equipment. 
Team members Bob and Mike did a complete overhaul on the communication rack in the mission control van.  Kevin and Ed preped and mounted and an additional digital camera on Away 26.


Laser Bob    OK, OK no more pictures....                                              Kevin the camera integrator man.

                                                           You can never have enough antenna assembly training.


Remember, watch the skies.  It may not be aliens after all.


Away 26 is ready for flight.  All systems have tested go and now all that's left is the packing and
watching the weather.  Currently there is rain predicated over the launch site at the lift off time. 
The next two days will tell.  Today we added one more digital camera to the system.  



Away 26 is nearing completion.  Next Saturday the vehicle will undergo a 'full up test'.  This is a complete
cycling of the mission.  The mission control team will be in the van, the antenna farm will be assembled and
Away 26 will be put through it's paces.  The difference will be location.  The edge of the parking lot instead
of the edge of space.


New Video

The newest video clip shows the launch of the prototype Dark Sky Station.  You can find it on the video page.

Away 26

The Away 26 mission will be lifting off on April 9th.  The team is busy with all the hundreds of final details for the flight.
For you techo geeks out there here's the Away 26 launch checklist:

Away 26 Launch Checklist

1.  Battery voltage check.

¨   A.  Primary controller

¨   B.  Spread Spectrum controller

¨   C.  Mini beacon

¨   D.  Transmitted video system

¨   E.   Recording video

¨   F.   Load new batteries in camcorder

¨   G.  Temperature data logger

2. Power Cycle Test

¨   A.  Attach test flash bulbs to command pyrotechnic output clips (4)        

¨   B.  Power on primary controller

¨   C.  Verify correct GPS Fix

¨   D.  Verify command uplink

¨   E.  Verify system time         

¨   F.  Power on spread spectrum controller

¨   G.  Verify correct GPS Fix

¨   H.  Verify command uplink

¨   I.    Verify system time           

¨   J.  Power on transmitting video system

¨   K.  Verify image on camera 1

¨   L.  Verify image on camera 2

¨   M.  Verify image on camera 3

¨   N.  Verify image on camera 4 

¨   O.  Power on GPS tracker

¨   P.  Verify correct GPS Fix

¨   Q.  Send primary controller cutdown command

¨   R.  Verify bulb flash

¨   S.  Send primary controller parachute command

¨   T.  Verify bulb flash

¨   U.  Send spread spectrum controller cutdown command

¨   V.  Verify bulb flash

¨   W.  Send spread spectrum controller parachute command

¨   X.  Verify bulb flash

¨   Y.  Power down primary controller

¨   Z.  Power down spread spectrum controller

¨   AA.  Power off transmitting video system

¨   AB.  Power off GPS tracker

¨               3. Inform fill team GO For Balloon fill             

¨               4. Power on PongSat number 1601   Note time:____________

¨               5. Power on PongSat number 1603   Note time:____________

¨               6. Power on PongSat number 1606   Note time:____________

¨               7. Power on PongSat number 1610   Note time:____________

            8. Vehicle secure for launch. 

¨     A.  All boxes secure

¨     B.  All structure bolts secure

¨     C.  Antennas secure

¨     D.  Stabilizer Fins secure

¨     E.  Parachute secure

¨     F.  Landing bumper secure

¨               9. Final vehicle weighing.  Note weight:_________________

¨               10. Move vehicle into launch position

¨               11. Inspect main rigging.

¨               12, Confirm parachute rigging.

¨               13. Verify popper pyrotechnic leads connected to internal popper connection.

¨               14. Attach popper clips to the popper cutdown pyrotechnic.

¨               15. Attach Popper parachute clips to the popper parachute pyrotechnic

¨               16. Attach primary controller cutdown clips to the primary cutdown pyrotechnic.

¨               17. Attach primary controller parachute clips to the primary parachute pyrotechnic.

¨               18. Attach spread spectrum controller cutdown clips to the primary cutdown pyrotechnic.

¨               19. Attach spread spectrum controller parachute clips to the primary parachute pyrotechnic.

¨               20. Plug in mini-beacon battery and verify transmission.

¨               21. Power on temperature data logger.

22. Power on digital cameral system

¨     A.  Power on camera.

¨     B.  Verify camera mode

¨     C.  Verify 409 pictures remaining

¨     D.  Verify flash off

¨     E.  Verify connection to the camera controller

¨     F.  Power on camera controller

¨     G.  Verify taking of test picture.

¨     H.  Seal camera box.                       

¨               23. GPS tracker on and transmission and position verified.

¨               24. Tape GPS  tracker switch.

¨               25. Power on primary controller and transmission and position verified.

¨               26. Tape primary controller switch.

¨               27. Verify terminal logging at mission control.

¨               28. Power on Spread spectrum controller and transmission and position verified.

¨               29. Tape spread spectrum controller switch.

¨               30. Verify terminal logging at mission control.

¨               31. Power on transmitting video and verify transmission.

¨               32. Tape transmitting video switch.

¨               33. Verify transmission video being recorded at mission control.

¨               34. Turn on and verify recording on video unit on, Auto focus off.

¨               35. Secure video camera box.

¨               36. Foreign object removal inspection.

¨               37. Ground video go.

¨               38. Mission Control go.

¨               39. Start Popper, turn on switch, note tone, note time_____________________. 

¨             40. Attach main rigging to the vehicle.

¨               41. Sky clear of traffic

¨               42. JP’s go

¨             43. System is go for launch.

¨               44.  Launch on command.                                         Note lift off time: _____________

Februarys what's new page.

Januarys what's new page.

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This page was last edited on May 28, 2005
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