Pegasus II is preparing for our 2nd launch attempt in a several weeks. It is difficult to express the magnitude of the project, which is the contribution of 47 volunteers, and takes users on a real-time trip to 100,000 feet in the upper atmosphere. The following is a concise summary of the flight, craft configurations, and Operational Technology used during the flight.
[Figure 1] shows the flight events over time. It takes 1 hour and 41 minutes to reach the target altitude goal of 100,000 feet. It takes less than 12 minutes for the craft to descend 94,000 feet at which point the life saving main parachute is deployed. After the main is deployed is slightly over 6 minutes to touchdown.
Configuration at Launch and Touchdown. The launch configuration [Figure 2] details the complexity of the craft, with its sensors, radios, and servos. This visualization tells the story why flight command was unwilling to risk the craft on the previous launch attempt without the system in perfect working order at launch. We cannot have a “glitch” on the flight line prior to launch, otherwise we are risking thousands of man hours and 10s of thousands invested in the craft…and that is not going to happen. The touchdown configuration [Figure 3] shows how the craft appears after main parachute deployment.
Operational Technology (Piraeus/Orleans)
The Operational Technology that drives the user experience as well as flight operations is shown in [Figure 4]. The graphic complex, but at its center is Piraeus and MS Research’s Orleans. What is interesting is the all the work by our mission team on the technology is performed through interfacing with Piraeus/Orleans, not customizing it. That means that the most critical part of the real-time communications is simple, to leverage, because it provides the communications layer in the context needed by the applications to use it.
We have also included some latency tests in [Figure 5] on the Operational Technology, which resides in Microsoft Azure in the West Coast Data Center. The latency, in milliseconds, were conducted using telemetry and a round trip from a single VM in Data Center to the Operational Technology in the West Coast. The latency from one point to another is approximately one half of the latency of the round trip. What you will also notice is the latency over distance changes, but it does not dramatically change.
Our rock star phone teams have also provided apps for iOS, Android, and Windows using CoAP protocol over Web sockets, which we believe may be one of the first experiences delivered in the manner. Our Web site team has provided an experience that mashes up several real-time aspects of telemetry broadcast, mapping of the chase vehicle, launch station, and inflight craft as well as live video streams from the launch point and the flight as it flies.
Figure 1 – Flight Events
Figure 2 – Launch Configuration (not to scale)
Figure 3 – Touchdown Configuration (not to scale)
Figure 4 – Architecture
Figure 5 – Latency Tests (milliseconds) Operational Technology Tested (Piraeus/Orleans) Tested is located in Microsoft Azure West Coast Data Center. Data Center is table is the client testing a round trip to the Operational Technology and back to the client.
Pegasus experienced a delay, then cancellation of flight for Oct 5 due to a mechanical failure in the Delivery System Release (DSR) servo. The cancellation was necessary because of the failure of the servo and the time needed to obtain and test new equipment. High altitude is inherently a risky business and mission commanders will not put the craft at unnecessary risk to make dates, thus cancellation of the Oct 5 flight was required.
We have a 2 day window to make flight and will try for a 9AM (Mountain Time) lift off for Pegasus II, Oct 6, 2015. Weather conditions are not optimal with scattered thunderstorms rolling through the area. However, we believe a window exists between 9AM-11AM for the team to make a safe flight and conduct recovery operations near Cheyenne, WY.
We will try to make flight on Oct 6. However, if thunderstorms exist between 7:30 and 9AM tomorrow, Oct 6, at the launch site, the mission will be scrubbed and force a multi-week delay in flight and possibly a new launch location.
We will try and hope the weather holds for flight.
Packing up just my gear for Pegasus II. Parachutes, 2-way radios, video, and other odds and ends. Mark has the devices, ground stations, and payload with him. We will meet in Denver tomorrow and drive up to Cheyenne, WY and pick up 291 cubic feet of Helium before 5pm. We will spend the next 2 days prepping for flight and a little practice time to get the mission off close to schedule. Much work to do this weekend.
Below is what I am packing minus computer and other assorted tech toys.
You will notice 3 parachutes. The 4′ parachute hopefully is disposable as it is a backup system for premature balloon burst. We should come down on the 2′ parachute for 88,000 feet hitting close to 300 mph, then deploy the main 7′ parachute at 12, 000 feet and 2 minutes prior to impact. If all goes well the flight operations will be control be remote intelligence running in a Microsoft Azure data center 1,000 miles away from the craft.
Flight is scheduled for Monday Oct 5th 2015 at @10AM. Please sign up for SMS Flight Notifications and the craft can text your phone when it launches.
The Pegasus Mission is all about bringing you a near space adventure, an experience in High Altitude Flight that you may have never witnessed before. It is about you.
You can help us out promoting the flight of Pegasus II Oct 5 by using your social networks to promote the flight and get users to sign up for SMS notifications and the craft will send a text message to users to alert them of the launch.
Pegasus II is high altitude mission to near space providing a global real-time experience to users from the upper atmosphere using Microsoft Azure and experimental technology.
Windows and Android apps available in app/play stores for Pegasus II’s mission to near space. iOS app submitted last night and hopefully will be available by flight time Oct 5 ~10AM MDT from Cheyenne, WY, USA
Search “Pegasus Mission” to find the mobile apps.
Warning: This mission has no guarantee of success. The mission team is working in a remote and hostile environment with high sensitive equipment nearly 20 miles above the surface of the earth. However, attempting to try what has never been done before is courageous and noble effort itself in an effort to learn and provide a unique experience to others.
High Altitude Science Firsts
Real-time video transmission from a HAB
Coordinated global broadcast of real-time telemetry and mapping through Web and mobile apps
Global user communications direct to HAB inflight
Craft notifications via SMS to users
Widely available HAS mission that is publicly and globally consumable
Real-time communications to/from HAB
Low latency, high throughput, linearly scalable and bidirectional communications