Pegasus II – Next Launch Attempt

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

Flight Events
Flight Events

Figure 2 – Launch Configuration (not to scale)

Launch Configuration
Launch Configuration


Figure 3 – Touchdown Configuration (not to scale)

Touchdown Configuration
Touchdown Configuration

Figure 4 – Architecture

High Level 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 II -Flight Oct 5 CANCELLED will try Oct 6

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.

Pegasus II – Mobile Apps

Android and Windows mobile apps now ready for flight.  Please make sure that you update these apps if you have already downloaded and installed.  Search for “Pegasus Mission” in the app/play store.

We are pushing to get the iOS/iPhone ready by flight time, but this may be close.

Flight 10:00AM Oct 5 2015 from Cheyenne, WY.

Packed up and Heading Out for Pegasus II

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.

Close1 Close2 Close3 Close4 Packed - Copy Unpacked - Copy

Pegasus II – Go For Launch

Pegasus II is GO FOR LAUNCH for our next mission to near space.  A 2 day Launch Window of Oct 5 – Oct 6 from Cheyenne, WY.

Windows store apps for live telemetry, mapping, sending user messages to the inflight craft are available…search for “Pegasus Mission”.

Live video + telemetry at    Sign up for SMS flight notifications here and Pegasus II will text your phone when it takes flight.

Android and iOS apps to follow shortly.

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Dare Mighty Things 😀

New Launch Window and Win10 App

We will know in the next 48 hours whether the Oct 5 – 6 launch date will hold good news for weather conditions.  We will advise of a go or no-go on Monday or Tuesday (Sept 28 or 29).

Our Win10 and windows phones are now searchable in the Windows app stores.  You can search for “Pegasus Mission” and install the free app to watch the flight of Pegasus II.  You can also send a message to the craft inflight and we will show you message on a tiny LCD display outside the craft and record it into the video record during flight.

We will advise shortly on the phone apps for Android and iOS, stay tuned.

Remember to go to the Web site and sign up for SMS flight notifications and the craft will text your phone when it launches so you will not miss the flight.

We hope the UAV gods can an excellent weather forecast for next week in the next 48 hours 😀

Best Wishes,