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On Saturday, June 2, the JP Aerospace team set up shop in the Nevada desert. Two platforms, Away 32 and Away 33, were carried aloft by balloon. These platforms were loaded. Each one was performing multiple tests and accomplished multiple mission objectives.
Away 32 was the first in the air. It reached 94,000 feet with a fast climb rate of 1,300 feet per minute. The first objective of Away 32 was to test our new precision helium fill system. The ability to put an exact amount of gas into the balloon is critical to future missions. Another objective was to give some new hardware a shakedown. A new carbon adapter attached the vehicle to the balloon. This unit was developed for the Tandem airship. Away 32 carried an upgraded spread spectrum telemetry/command system. This basic system was first flown on Away 29. It was upgraded for increased range for this mission.
Thirteen customer advertisements funded this flight to the edge. Six onboard cameras took over 2000 pictures of their logos. Interest in these dramatic images has really increased since JPA first began offering them a year ago.
Away 33 was launched forty-five minutes later. Away 33 carried its cargo to 92,000 feet.
On board were 329 PongSat student experiments. These experiments ranged from sophisticated sensors and computers to plant seeds and marshmallows. They are sent by students all over the world and are flown free of charge.
High winds during the launch gave us a chance to put our balloon launch bags to the test. Both launches went off smoothly.
Both vehicles carried "Bean Me Up" coffee by Vista Clara Coffee. The high-flying coffee will be auctioned off on eBay to support the PongSat program.
Both vehicles landed within 15 miles of the launch site and were recovered the same day. Between the two vehicles, there were five independent GPS tracking systems, seven computers, eleven cameras, three command systems, and two beacons. Having two vehicles in the air at once gave us a chance to shakedown the recently overhauled mission control van. The complexity of the flights really showed what a skilled, all-volunteer team can accomplish.
Pictures and video from the flight are available at the JPA website: www.jpaerospace.com
JP Aerospace's next major flight will be of the Tandem high altitude airship. With the Tandem, JP Aerospace will attempt to break the altitude record for airships this fall. The Tandem has a maximum altitude capability of 110,000 feet.
JP Aerospace is an independent space program staffed by volunteers dedicated to bringing space travel to everyone.
Contact: John Powell
Tel: (916) 858-0185