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Here are the latest happenings at JPA              


We are go for both missions on Saturday. We're down to all the pre-mission insanity. The crazier it is just
before we leave for the desert the calmer is on launch day.  At least that's how it seems.

There is a lot of new infrastructure on this mission. A new ground antenna, two new antenna stands, a meter helium
fill system, rebuild mission control, new transmission and exhaust system in the van. Add to that the bag launch system
and the dirt side is going to be just as complex as the sky side.

We put the final charge on the flight batteries yesterday, (seven rechargeable lithium polymer packs and twelve one
time use sets).  There were a couple of glitches in the full duration test of the camera array. We had to replace a couple
of the connectors. The final test past with fly colors.  We got our people, clearances, balloons, helium, forecasts, flight sims,
vehicles, and even "Beam Me Up" coffee ready to go. Only one more page of todo left. 100,000 feet, here we come!

If anyone want a edge of space ad. We have one $300 spot available. However,we need the image file by 5pm pacific
time for it to make in on the vehicle.


I'm reporting in from the AIAA Balloon Systems Conference in Williamsburg, VA.  It's making me a
little nervous to be away just before a mission, however, it's been worth it. There have been lots,
and I do mean lots of very in depth papers on the analysis of the stress on NASA's pumpkin balloon.
There's also been papers more relevant to JPA. There was a balloon train shock mitigation talk that
had me taking lots of notes.

However the fundamental question remains. Doesn't ANYONE know how to make a decent pizza on
the east coast outside of New York?


We've started using Goggle Sketch to draw the vehicles. Here is Away 33.  The basic vehicle is complete.
The GPS antennas, reel, balloon cutdown, parachute and all the cables still need to be drawn.

 Away 33   Away 33

For you Google Sketch fans here is the orginal file.  Away33-5.skp
Feel free the modify, experiment and decorate. Send in your cool versions and I'll post them here.


More Antenna Work

The second antenna stand needed a near rebuild. The entire mid section was rebuilt. It now better then the "good one".

Away 33 will carry a live video downlink. There are four camera heads in all. The view will cycle through the cameras every 30
seconds during the flight. Here the camera looking at the PongSats.

 Away 33 Cam

Here's two fun article about the "Coffee Flight 07", (otherwise know as Away 32).




Final testing for flight was started Saturday.  All of the systems were brought up on both vehicles and given a shakedown.
One of the time consuming tasks was getting everything communicating correctly with the new setup in the Mission
control van.  By the end of the day Bob had all the systems transmitting data, displaying on maps and generally purring.

Ed and Karl took on on the task of checking the antennas. We're using
higher frequency with smaller antennas these
days, but we still have a few applications that need the big boomers. It's never good to discover you're missing a bolt
in the field. Before each mission we setup everything and make sure we have all the nuts and bolts.

 Bob testing systems                     Antenna farm                      Ed and Karl Assembling  
Bob configuring and system.                            Antenna Farm.                              Ed and Karl Assembling.

Bean Me Up! Space Coffee Press Release


Now that Away 33 is nearly ready for testing equipment mounting has begun on Away 32. The camera array
controller, the beacon and the backup balloon release were the first to be mounted to the airframe. The positions
for the two flight controllers and the backup GPS tracker were determined. Four of the antennas are on and their cable
runs buttoned down. I made a new switch mount for the camera array controlled. The new one is clearer and easier
to verify during the preflight checklist.

To raise funds and keep the program flying we're carrying a quarter pound of coffee on Away 32. During the flight the
coffee will be exposed to extreme cold, vacuum, cosmic rays and a touch of zero-gee on the descent. After landing we
will be auctioning it off on e-bay. Every bit helps.


All the major systems are mounted on Away 33. We still need to mount four camera head for the live video.
One is going to point at the reel. We want to get a closeup view of it in action.  

There's always lists of small things that need doing on each vehicle. Karl made a new insulating box for the
recording video and Paul made new lids for the other systems. Several of the old one disappeared after the last flight.
Bob focused on the camera heads (I couldn't resist) and got the GPS antennas mounted.

There is a lot of RF between these two craft. Nine transmitters in all. The next big job is to get all the ground antennas
and stands ready. I need more coffee. Maybe space coffee, hmmm..........


Smile for the Day

  Smiling PongSat
 Science and art together.

Yesterday was paper work, the press release and phone calls, not much assembly. We did manage to get the
video transmitter and the controller antenna mounted.


I don't like to criticize that other space program. I won't mention their name, only their initials N.A.S.A.
They have enough trouble without the peanut gallery taking pot shots. However, there is a proposal out there
that I have a real problem with. We sent out a press release just to let the world know.

NASA to Compete with Small Businesses

JPA Featured in Study

The good news of the day is a report by the Space and Advanced Communications Research
Institute at the George Washington University. The study is mainly about spaceplanes, however it
covers the entire range of new space organizations.




Final vehicle assembly has begun.
Before flight all the separate system sit on shelves and work benchs.  Yesterday all the white boxes were piled
on to the high rack for mounting. It always a bit of a puzzle figuring out where to put all the systems on the vehicle.
First to be assembled is Away 33. The high rack us just a set of foam and carbon decks. You could mount any box
anywhere. The first step is vertical balance. The up and down balance point needs to be half way between the
upper and lower main decks. I always start with the heaviest thing, the camcorder. The camcorder needs to have
a clear view, no antennas hanging down in front of the lens. You also need to be able to look down into top of the
box just before lift off.
It gets set in the corner of the lower deck at a diagonal.

Next is the top secondary deck systems. These are the easiest. We always put the same two systems there. The
radio beacon and the backup balloon release computer.  The only thing to watch out for is the placement of the
nylon mount. The boxes are mounted to the top of this deck but the parachute shelf and fins are mounted to the
bottom. It too easy for the mounts of the one to get in the way of the other.

Next is the shuffle. All the systems are piled on. They are now moved around, turned around and traded placed.
You are trying to get the six antenna in the correct relation to each other. Not to close, not in front of a camera,
no overlapping cables all in respect to the frequency and power level. All while the system places must result in the
system being balanced in both planes. Add to that keeping the power switches ascessable, lids openable, cable
lengths kept to a minimum and a dozen other factors. If the systems were the same each time it would be easy.
However, on each flight  there are new systems and uprated old ones. One change can cause the all the positions
to change. On Away 33 the placement has been figured out and the first three systems are mounted. Today the
next five systems will get bolted down and then antenna mounting will start.

Away 32 already has it's six cameras mounted. The system shuffle for this vehicle will happen on Friday.

Valve Joined


We joined the halves of the valve/balloon mount. This was a lot of work for a little part. We still need to
add a lip on one end. The lip should have been part of the mold, but someone (me) forgot, oh well, we'll
shoot for perfection next time....


The PongSats for the upcoming flight are truly exceptional. We have the simple one that are
focusing demonstrating the scientific method of Hypothesis, Test, Inspect result to very sophisticated
experiments with on board computers and sensors.

 HeartSat    Belgium PongSats Closeup   The More the Merrier
To fly a PongSat you gotta have heart.     PongSats can be very complex research probes.    The more the merrier!
   The Belgium Team
    Belgium PongSats!

April 07 what's new page.

January-March 07 what's new page.

October-December 06 what's new page.

August-September 06 what's new page.

May-June-July 06 what's new page.

March-April 06 what's new page.

January-February 06 what's new page.

October, November ,December 05 what's new page.

August September 05 what's new page.

July 05 what's new page.

May-June 05 what's new page.

March-April 05 what's new page.

February 05 what's new page.

January 04 what's new page.

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This page was last edited on July 3, 2007
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