This was the first flight of the PACE (Payload Accelerator for CubeSat Endeavors) initiative designed to aggressively shorten conventional technology testing timelines. The effort links two NASA programs -Flight Opportunities and Small Spacecraft Technology- efficiently connecting payloads to both suborbital and orbital flight tests that increase the likelihood of a technology being selected for a space exploration mission. PACE also works with other NASA programs like the CubeSat Launch Initiative to pave the most efficient pathway through NASA's technology testing process
The first technology tested in this, the inaugural flight of the initiative was V-R3x, developed by researchers at Stanford and Carnegie Mellon universities to support advanced communications and navigation capabilities among coordinated groups -or swarms- of CubeSats. The mission enabled researchers to evaluate V-R3x's advanced swarm communications by forming a mesh network between multiple spacecraft and ground stations.
Balloon launched on: 3/12/2021 at 13:00 utc
Launch site: Raven Innovation Campus, Baltic, South Dakota, US
Balloon launched by: Raven Aerostar
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon Cyclone
Flight identification number: HBAL500
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 3/12/2021 at 17:25 utc
Balloon flight duration (F: time at float only, otherwise total flight time in d:days / h:hours or m:minutes - ): 4 h 30 m
Landing site: ESE of Northwood, Iowa, US
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