Description of the payload

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.

Details of the balloon flight and scientific outcome

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

External references and bibliographical sources

Images of the mission

Raven Aerostar's high-altitude balloon is inflated the morning of its March 12, 2021 flight to test NASA's V-R3x technology in Baltic, SD - an effort made possible by the Agency's new PACE initiative.<br>(Image: Raven Aerostar) Raven Aerostar's high-altitude balloon is inflated the morning of its March 12, 2021 flight to test NASA's V-R3x technology in Baltic, SD - an effort made possible by the Agency's new PACE initiative.<br>(Image: Raven Aerostar) The V-R3x ground station at the launch site in Baltic, SD tracks the V-R3x payload aboard Raven Aerostar's high-altitude balloonas it ascends to test the technology's communication capabilities (Image: NASA / Anh Nguyen)