To See A World…

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

-William Blake, Auguries of Innocence 

During my freshman year in college I noticed an artifact hung on a piece of string with the stanza above from Blake’s poem pasted on a small piece of wood. I do not know its origins or how long it was in that room, but I think of it as a message in bottle, imprinted only on those fortunate enough to come into its possession. I remember staring at it and imagining the possibilities. When time came to change rooms, I left it there for the next occupant to discover just as I had…a timeless gift from the unknown. It’s been 36 years since I held that piece of wood in my hands and its message is still resilient.

Pegasus II is an emotional experience for me. I have spent nearly 10 years searching for the answer to a single question, “Why does the digital world behave differently than the physical world?”, my grain of sand. That question, my great question, has been wind to my sails all these years, and never would I have imagined that the answer would be found 20 miles above the surface of the Earth. The great team that is Pegasus II and our friends at MS Research have made this possible, and especially Mark Nichols my co-founder of The Pegasus Mission. I am indebted, you allow all of us to see a heaven in wild flower.

The film crew interviewed me in Kankakee, IL at the launch site on 2/23. I did okay until the last question. “What do you think others will get out of Pegasus II?” It was at that point, when I felt a rush of emotion hit me, it literally broke me down…and on camera. The Pegasus Mission is all about experimentation, exploration, and challenging assumptions about what is possible. We do this with zeal, we believe in trying regardless of the outcome. Swing-and-miss is acceptable, appreciated, and certainly respected, otherwise we cannot learn…but try you must with everything you have. That effort, the undaunting will to try, has inspired a few people. This was something never in the “charter”, but it is the team’s greatest compliment. My answer to that question (after an emotional break) was, if Pegasus II inspires a single person to challenge the status quo, then it was all worth it. I must believe that because it is next generation of explorers that are our collective future, a future that is unknown.

I wondered over the years how many others were inspired by Blake’s words hung in that freshman dorm or whether that piece of wood was lost to time. We will never know. Yet, somehow the past of an unknown person has pierced the veil of time, lives onboard Pegasus II, and perhaps inspires others.

We fly as soon as weather permits.



C’mon “Weather” Man

The Pegasus II mission team is still day to day in search for appropriate weather conditions to accommodate opening a launch window.  It’s springtime and busy weather patterns are emerging making it more difficult to find conditions within flight and launch operating parameters.  Even searching for alternative launch sites that yielded better conditions for winds aloft, have shown ground winds exceeded our operating parameters.  The Pegasus II mission team must remain patient until the weather conditions give us an opportunity to make a launch window.

Today’s (Mar 18, 2016)  busy weather map [Figure 1] from NOAA shows 4 high pressures and 10 low pressure in or near the United States.

Figure 1 – Mar 18, 2016


Flight Conditions near Central Illinois for Mar 21 – 25, 2016 exceed operating parameters.

Mar 21, 2016 – Radial Distance 93.77 miles


Mar 22, 2016 – Radial Distance 104.42 miles


Mar 23, 2016 – Radial Distance 117.24 miles


Mar 24, 2016 – Radial Distance 119.11 miles


Mar 25, 2016 – Radial Distance 78.68 miles (unrecoverable)






Waiting for Weather to Break

The Pegasus II mission team is prepared for another launch attempt,  but the weather is not cooperating.  The forecasts have shown high velocity upper atmosphere wind conditions with no wind shear for the last 3 days. This means the radial distance of the flight would exceed operating parameters.  Unfortunately, we are forced to wait for better weather conditions before we can set a launch window.  We are day-to-day at this point, stay tuned.

Pegasus II – Field Tests

The Pegasus Mission Team will attempt a field test of the Pegasus II payload and communications systems this weekend (Mar 12-13).  Flight command will declare a flight ready status and open a new launch window to follow shortly, if the field tests are completed within operating parameters.

The APRS system has been removed that caused an air pressure sensor to malfunction and replaced with Iridium satellite communications as the tertiary backup location system.  The Iridium satellite communications are integrated with the Microsoft Cloud to store data and leverage a 3rd party service.  This will allow the flight crews access to all Iridium communications and receive an email every 5 minutes to determine location as a convenience to the busy crews.  This tertiary system becomes critical if the primary and secondary GPS systems onboard the Pegasus II experience a failure.

The team will test communications with the payload, ground station, mobile station, field gateways, Operational Technology (Piraeus), satellite communications, remote intelligence, mission control, and array of subsystems communicating with the Operational Technology running in the Microsoft Cloud, e.g., Web site, mobile apps, text message notifications, user messages, logs, DocumentDB, Blob storage, Table storage, Queue storage, 3rd party services, Event Hubs, Stream Analytics, and Power BI.

Stand by for an update on Mar 14 or Mar 15 2016.

Dare Mighty Things