Window Missed, Try Again

We missed our Tuesday 1/20/2015 window for the Pegasus-1 launch at Koerner Aviation’s airfield in Kankakee, IL. An antenna that did not arrive in time was the issue that postponed the flight. A new launch window has opened and we will take advantage of it. The bad news is that our new window is very tight and our location moves to the West coast, 2000 miles away. The new window is 11:00AM PST on Wednesday January 28th on the eastern side of Washington State, in the proximity of Quincy, WA. We leave for Seattle later this week to attend meetings and a conference. Wednesday, the 28th, is our only opportunity to make the 3 hour trek across the Cascade mountain range to the launch location. The eastern “desert” of Washington provides us a near treeless environment, which helps to remediate potential recovery issues. The weather and high-level wind forecast for 1/28/2015 is beyond the forecast range at this point, which means we are chancing a grounding due to weather. We will pack up the equipment, which is considerable, and ship to the hotel in Seattle today.

The Pegasus Mission

The Pegasus mission is all about experimentation and innovation and involves both a high altitude balloon (HAB) scientific payload and the “Internet of Things”, aka IOT.  The following are the mission goals and technical objectives.

Mission Goals
(1) In-flight telemetry
(2) A photo of the curvature of earth, edge of atmosphere, and blackness of space.

Technical Objectives
(1) Real-time telemetry
(2) Broadcast of telemetry
(3) Telemetry capture
(4) Real-time command and control

The idea behind Pegasus is to perform real-time IOT in the hostile environment of near space.  The definition of “real-time” requires a deadline and for this mission we set the bar at < 100ms from the edge of near space to an observer, e.g., a phone or Web site.  We will capture the telemetry in cloud storage accounts for later analysis, but allow the observers to participant in the experiment in anywhere in the world as it is happening.

Telemetry
(1) Ground speed in knots
(2) Heading – compass point of the direction the payload is traveling
(3) Camera Angle – compass point of the direction of the camera
(4) GPS – latitude and longitude of the payload
(5) Pressure – Barometric pressure of the atmosphere
(6) Internal Temp – Internal temperature of the payload
(7) External Temp – External temperature of the atmosphere
(8) Humidity – Atmospheric humidity
(9) Altitude – Altitude of the payload
(10) Signal Strength – Strength of transmitters
(11) Battery – The charge remaining in the battery
(12) Accelerometer – 3D force on the payload (x,y,z)

This is a total of 17 data points streaming every second from the payload.

Commands
Commands are used to communicate back to the payload to perform functions associated with cut-down (releasing the balloon tether from the payload to begin the descent stage) as well as parachute deployment commands.

Ascent
The ascent stage is slightly over 1 hour for Pegasus-1, which should get to about 22,000 meters, which is enough to meet Pegasus-1 mission objectives.  During ascent we will be busy checking the systems for nominal condition.  More on this later.

Descent
The descent stage is all the drama Pegasus-1 makes a controlled HALO descent to 1,000 meters before deploying its main parachute.  The entire descent should take only 10-12 minutes.  It’s really “Fly or Die” time and the onboard and controls systems must work perfectly.

That is the summary for Pegasus-1 with more to follow on the aeronautics, payload, and operational technology that enables the real-time aspects of the mission.  Launch in 3 days from Koerner Aviation’s airfield in Kankakee, IL 01/19/2015.