Purpose of the flight and payload description

HASP stands for High Altitude Student Platform and is a program aimed to foster student excitement in an aerospace career path and to help address workforce development issues in this area. In the framework of the program a multi-instrumented platform was designed to carry up to twelve student payloads to an altitude of about 36 kilometers with flight durations of 15 to 20 hours using a small volume, zero pressure balloon. The payloads carried by HASP are designed and built by students and are used to flight-test compact satellites or prototypes and to fly other small experiments. The state of Louisiana and the Louisiana Space Consortium have funded the construction and operation of HASP and the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF) through the NASA Balloon Program Office has committed to flying HASP once a year for three years.

At left can be seen an image of the entire HASP flight configuration payload which is composed of two major components; the CSBF frame on the bottom and the HASP system on the top. The CSBF frame is the primary structural element of the payload and was recycled from an older test payload frame by the CSBF. This component houses all the subsystems CSBF requires to monitor and control the balloon vehicle. On the top corners of this frame are the attachment points for cabling leading to the swivel, flight train, parachute and balloon. Each suspension cable is threaded through a PVC pipe increasing the rigidity of the suspension system and reducing the probability that, upon landing, the swivel would impact student payloads located on the top of HASP. On the bottom of the CSBF frame is the cardboard honeycomb crush pad and attach points for the ballast hopper suspension cables.

The interior of the frame supports a Mini-SIP (Support Instrument Package) that interfaces to the HASP electronics and provides uplink-downlink communication with the balloon payload, with empty room for a variety of prototypes and test articles, allowing the CSBF to test fly new technology that may improve the performance of future professional scientific balloon systems.

Attached to the core structural frame are four fiberglass frames that support the small (< 1 kg) student payloads. Each brace
extends 56 cm away from the aluminum frame and supports two student payload mounting plates, each of which includes standard mechanical, power and serial communication interfaces. One such brace is attached to each side of the core structure to accommodate up to eight student payloads. This configuration was chosen to minimize interference between the metal frame and any student payloads that may exercise their transmitters during flight. In addition, up to four large (< 10 kg) student payloads can be mounted on the top of the core structure and have a power and communication interface similar to that of the small payloads.

The command and control subsystem, provides the means for receiving and processing uplinked commands, acquiring and archiving the payload data, downlinking status information and interfacing with the student payloads. There are three primary control modules in the subsystem that communicate with each other over a 100 Mbps (megabit per second) internal Ethernet network. These modules are the Flight Control Unit (FCU) which "manages" the subsystem; decoding commands received from the CSBF supplied Mini-SIP and distributing them, watching for units that may need to be reset, collecting status information and downlinking data through the Mini-SIP. In addition, the FCU also monitors the voltages and currents of the power system and collects environmental temperature information for housekeeping records.

The Data Archive Unit (DAU) that controls the on-board recording of all data, making these data records available to other processes on the network, controlling the HASP GPS receiver and managing the time-stamping of all records. All on-board recording is to Compact Flash cards which appear as hard disks to the operating system, but function well in hard vacuum. The Serial Communications Unit (SCU) runs the software which communicates with the student payloads. Without this unit, student data will not be collected.

Finally, temperature sensors are placed at strategic locations around HASP (e.g. batteries, solar shield panels, exterior) to monitor the environment and assess the thermal performance of the system. The input power source for HASP is about 30 VDC and is provided by either a Lambda ZUP36-24 for ground operations or eight B7901-11 eleven cell lithium sulphur dioxide batteries for flight.

One of the major innovations incorporated into HASP was to mount all the command and control components on a single 109 cm x 36 cm Electronics Mounting Plate (EMP). This has the primary advantage that the EMP can be easily removed from the HASP frame for easy access to all the electronics during debugging, testing and/or servicing. In addition, a complete flight spare EMP was built during HASP development and can be used as a "plug and play" replacement in the field should problems arise with the original.

Details of the balloon flight

Balloon launched on: 8/31/2011 at 13:28 utc
Launch site: Scientific Flight Balloon Facility, Fort Sumner, (NM), US  
Balloon launched by: Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon Raven - W11.82-1E-37 - 11.820.000 cuft
Flight identification number: 621N
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 8/31/2011 at 23:39 utc
Balloon flight duration (F: time at float only, otherwise total flight time in d:days / h:hours or m:minutes - ): 10 h 9 m
Landing site: W of Holbrook, Arizona, US

The balloon was launched by dynamic method using the Big Bill launch vehicle on August, 31 2011 at 13:35 utc under perfect weather conditions. After a initial eastward route during ascent at 16:00 utc it reached float altitude of 123.000 ft and started a fast westward course taken by the prevailing winds over central New Mexico and entering at the end of the flight to Arizona. There, at 23:35 utc the separation command was sent and the payload started to descend west of Holbrook in his own parachute. Impact occured in coordinates 35.0059º -110.4049º at 00:28 utc on September 1st.

After return to the launch base the HASP gondola was quickly refurbished for a new flight during the same season which occured on September 8, 2011.

This was the fifth mission of the HASP program. It was originally planned to be carried out in 2010, but as a result of a flight restriction impossed over all NASA balloon activities due to a launch incident occured in the Alice Springs airport, that same year it was moved to the fall campaign in 2011.

The flight included the following experiments:

OSIRIS Lite (OLite) developed by Pennsylvania State University's Student Space Programs Laboratory (SSPL) is a technology demonstration for the OSIRIS CubeSat. Ultimately, the technologies demonstrated by OLite will make up the spacecraft bus for the OSIRIS satellite, designed to investigate the effects of space weather on the ionosphere.

SKC Wide Field Camera developed by Salish Kootenai College (SKC) is a student designed, built, tested, and operated prototype general purpose astronomical visible light camera. The primary goal is to provide SKC students with systems engineering experience for scientific payloads carried on balloon or spacecraft platforms, with a secondary goal of testing the system design in near space conditions to enable refinement of the design for possible future flight opportunities.

University of Maryland StratoPigeon (UMDSP) It's goal is to provide a complimentary method of data storage and delivery in a manner that reduces the effort and time spent on payload recovery for long duration flight. The experiment will be a prototype data capsule that can store large amounts of data and be released from the main gondola during the flight with a manual command. The capsule will descend on a parachute to a predicted landing site chosen for location and accessibility. During descent and on landing, the payload will transmit exact coordinates through satellite link and line of sight radio.

Measurement of the ozone profile in the stratosphere using nanocrystalline and nanocomposite sensor arrays on a high altitude balloon platform developed by a team from Universities of North Dakota and North Florida. Three different groups of ozone sensor arrays were included: (i) nanocrystalline ITO sensors, (ii) nanocomposite organic-ITO gas sensors on glass substrates and (iii) nanocomposite inorganic-ITO gas sensors on glass substrates.

GERM an experiment developed by a team from Metro State College of Denver and the Community College of Aurora in Colorado

COSMOCAM a web camera developed by Rocket Science, Inc. designed to bring live views of the balloon launch and flight from on-board the payload to students, classroom and the general public. The video camera head, mounted on a vertical stanchion, includes a 26º optical zoom with full pan and tilt control available over the web. The downlinked streaming video is retransmitted over the internet for general viewing. CosmoCam was particularly useful for the project as it allows student teams to visually inspect and monitor their payload during flight.

External references

Images of the mission


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