Logs Missions 29 and 30 With Student Experiments
JP Aerospace (JPA)
bills itself as America's OTHER space program. It calls itself
an independent space program -- a volunteer-based organization that
achieves access to space by just doing it. In that spirit, JPA
launched two missions on November 7, Away Missions 29 and 30.
Company organizer John Powell says flying two missions on the
same morning was a real challenge for the team. For JPA, managing
two vehicles at once is a critical step toward future operations in
the upper atmosphere.
For last Saturday's launches, the company used a new high wind
launch system. It 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.
Powell says the company is improving launch systems with each
flight with hopes to achieve all-weather balloon operations.
Powell said, "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
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
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 -- well below that needed to continue the
flight. At 17,600 feet, controllers sent the command to release the
balloons. Away 30 landed by parachute six miles downrange.
Powell says the company still has a lot of work to do adding,
"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."
The next flight is scheduled for January 2007. JPA plans to
conduct plasma drag experiments at 120,000 feet. The next flight
with room for PongSats and high altitude ads will be in April 2007.
Powell says platform space on both flights is starting to fill up,
so contact them soon if you're interested in participating, or if
you'd like to buy ad space.