How hard can it be?

There is one tongue-and-cheek thing we say about a Pegasus mission, which the North American Eagle (NAE) team has their own version:

“How hard can be it?”

While NAE is focused of racing near the speed of sound, the Pegasus Mission team is focused on delivering a global audience this dramatic event of fire and speed in real-time through research technologies. Our part is small in comparison to the NAE effort, but is also extremely challenging.

The difficulties are far beyond what a person using an app might expect. That is because we are dealing with a real-world situation and extreme circumstances, not a tightly constrained demo. Because of the realities of doing something live, in real-time, and not done before, it accentuates everything. A slight miscalculation, bad weather, wonky sensor, loss of Internet, or hardware malfunction, and the show is cancelled for the moment you have been preparing. All the man hours spent in preparation by a large team can be lost. That is the chance our team accepts and it is truly noble effort. The conditions that we are working limit your ability to test something. For example, you cannot setup a 9 mile WiFi network with someone else’s equipment to test connectivity, or test a device while undergoing extreme G-forces and speeds up to 700mph…it just not feasible. It is risky business to be public about these endeavors, but if we didn’t the audience could never witness an extraordinary event. This is the place where technology meets harm’s way, and it drives meaningful innovation.

The sensor package, camera, and display in the cockpit of the NAE weigh very little, but is takes nearly 800 lbs. of equipment, including a 500 lbs. satellite network, to get operationalized. There is networking to be done to get our Internet connection established, as well as the networking provided by the NAE to us to connect to the cockpit. There also end-2-end system testing to produce the results from runs. That is only the cost of admission. We must coordinate our drone flights with overhead airplane observations as well as follow (to the letter) all the safety protocols. Once we have established the operational frame, we must choreograph the event. Timing cannot be off by even a single minute; people must be in position up and down the run line and technology fully operational at the same time…stuff must work together at the right time.

The other invisible part of the Pegasus-NAE mission is logistics. The environment is a desert devoid on anything. You must take everything with you, food, water, restroom, equipment, etc. If you forget something, then it’s not available. The daily round trip to and from the hotel is 320 miles, not feasible to make a “quick” trip to pick up and odd or end. It is a guarantee that you will not have something you need at some point in time. Some of the most humorous moments can occur when forced to be resourceful…your war stories.

We try, and try hard, but success is still never a guarantee. This is the nature of pushing the envelope, of doing what has not been done before. When success is gained, it very earned. None of the Pegasus or NAE teams will receive any monetary benefit, in fact it will cost us financially. There will be no reward beyond the personal satisfaction of an accomplishment of something previously impossible. If our work inspires a single person to become a STEM explorer, that is reward enough.

God speed Ed Shadle and Jessi Combs, god speed.

Dare Mighty Things


Pegasus-NAE Day 1

Day 1 is purely for logistics needs.  We must pick up the large and heavy satellite communications gear needed to establish an Internet connection from the remote Alvord Desert where North American Eagle will make her runs.

Much confusion as entered the frame on the SATCOM during the last 48 hours.  When the Waybill was analyzed, the expected of 205 lbs. weight had ballooned to 507 lbs. Totally unexpected.  Further information told us that the dimensions where also considerably larger than what we had obtained for transportation.  With the SATCOM is transit, there is nothing to do but change the type of vehicle to haul it.

The arrangements were made, but only to find out after arrival in Boise, ID, that the dimensions did not consider the wheel wells of the rented truck. A trip to pick up the SATCOM at FedEx confirmed that the truck was too small.  Finally, with a bigger truck, i.e., 15′, we could get the SATCOM loaded with a forklift.

The plan will be to not remove the equipment from the truck and hopefully point the dish out of the back at the satellite. Otherwise, this is going to be an ordeal to unload and load the equipment from the truck.

Day 1 in the books.  The rest of the teams arrives tomorrow and we will obtain more odds and ends before traveling to the desert Sunday morning (180 miles) and rendezvous with the NAE team to begin setup.

Users Guide North American Eagle

Our ask is to please share on your social network for awareness for this event.

The apps, Web and mobile, allow you watch and participate in the North American Eagle race for the land speed record. The apps perform 3 functions:

  1. Watch the real-time telemetry from our device in the cockpit of the NAE
  2. Virtual Cockpit of  previous runs with video and telemetry from NAE’s onboard system.
  3. Send a friendly message  to the NAE team or pilot that will displayed and recorded in the cockpit.

The mobile apps are ready in the Apple, Google, and Microsoft app stores.  Search for “Pegasus Mission” and select the Pegasus Mission-NAE app and download.

The Web site for NAE experiment is here.

Text message notifications are here.

Each run the North American Eagle takes, approx. 8 miles only takes about 3-4 minutes from start to finish.  There are 7 scheduled runs and the timing of each run is nondeterministic.  You will want to sign up for text message notifications , so we can notify you when a run is about to start.  We will also let you know about any video or records broken immediately following the runs.


Why is North American Eagle Important?

The impressive thing about North American Eagle (NAE) is not just the engineering of the vehicle, it is the people.  When you attempt to challenge the frontiers of the possible with seemingly impossible obstacles, it is likely to become inspirational.

Understanding NAE and the race for the land speed record is story more about people than engineering.  The odds are long and success is not a guarantee. This simple fact becomes the gravity where we relate our own life experiences to their challenge.  It is this tacit exchange where the struggle to achieve is absorbed on an individual basis.  We love the underdog because we are the underdog.

NAE’s story started over 17 years ago and during that time it has taken an enormous team of volunteers to make the attempt possible. Those 17 years will translate into a focal point for 2 critical minutes where machine, pilot, and crew challenge the barrier of the impossible with the drama of fire and speed.

Disappointment is a possibility, but failure is not in the vocabulary. It is the effort, a Herculean effort, where the attempt to succeed is more important than the success itself.  That’s the part of the human experience we connect.  They carry all of us them onboard the NAE…the underdogs.

NAE will triumph and one day rest in museum.  It will be tribute to the underdogs, the dreamers, and those with the will to challenge assumptions about what is possible. That is why breaking the land speed record is important.

Dare Mighty Things 🙂

The Adventure within the Adventure

The Pegasus Mission will bring you a live telemetry broadcast and hopefully a live video broadcast of a new world land speed record from the remote Alvord Desert in southeastern Oregon, thanks to North American Eagle (NAE).  With luck, Ed Shadle and Jessi Combs will each pilot the NAE into the history books being the fastest people on travel on land. The NAE is a modified F-104 Starfighter, once capable of MACH 2.8 in the air, but now capable of 835 mph on land. It is a 17-year project in the making, and The Pegasus Mission is honored to support the effort of a team of true heroes that challenge the frontiers of STEM and human ingenuity to benefit us all.

Our task is to broadcast real-time telemetry from the NAE to mobile and Web apps as the NAE screams across the desert floor to a global audience in milliseconds from the event, i.e., real-time IoT at the speed of sound. We will also capture the onboard telemetry (~60K msg/sec)  and video and upload so you can view the thrill of the runs on demand with views from the cockpit and our 2 drones. You will also be able to send a friendly message to the NAE team through the apps and have it captured on video directly behind the pilot’s seat. This noble team has spent nearly 2 decades for this moment and your support by sending a simple message is reward enough.  We thank you in advance.

The entire event is challenging beyond belief, because it is not “only” an engineering and technology challenge, it is also an extreme logistics challenge. Consider it requires a small city to constructed on the desert floor to execute this event. There are no amenities much less water, food, bathrooms, fuel, electricity, or Internet available. If you don’t bring it with you, it’s not going to be available. The NAE burns 90 gallons of fuel per minute and is schedule to make 8 runs. This requires 2,000 gallons of jet fuel to be transported onto the desert floor…and that’s just the cost of admission for the 35-member crew.

Our part is far less extensive in terms of logistical needs, but has to be managed. Vehicles, rooms, planned fuel stops, a 7x4x3 205 lb. SATCOM, MREs, batteries, UPS, routers, video equipment, water, ice chests, chairs, drones, computers, chargers, extension cords, generator, etc., etc. all need to be addressed and coordinated. A constant stream of development and testing on the applications that will bring this event to a global audience is equally demanding before publishing to you. Splice this together with a well-orchestrated communications plan so the audience can know what is happening and when, and you have complex choreography with our skeleton Pegasus field crew.

Locked in on the week of Sept 24, we will meet the challenge head-on and do our best to bring a global audience and experience they can participate … at the speed of sound.

Dare Mighty Things and bring the future into the present.

Stay tuned 🙂

Trip to Visit North American Eagle

The Pegasus Mission spent Wednesday morning (7/27/16) with the North American Eagle team discussing placing our telemetry package onboard to deliver a real-time experience during the run for a land speed record. This story FAR exceeds a novel attempt at breaking a record. It is a 17-year story of dogged determination, and complex problem solving that took years…one problem at a time on shoe-string budget. There is also an interesting connection with the history of the aircraft, which Ed Shadle resurrected from a piece of junk and former pilots have reconnected. This makes NAE living piece of history on its final mission into the history books.

STEM is everywhere in this craft capable of 835 mph. It is both engineering and art in many ways. It is one story after another on conquering insurmountable odds in an effort to challenge assumptions about what is possible. The Pegasus Mission connects with this remarkable and resourceful team and we are ALL-IN. The NAE team’s effort is not just noble, it is truly heroic.

Our mission is to bring a global audience a real-time experience of Jessi Combs historic run with video and telemetry via Azure through Web and Mobile. Likely occurring between Sept 18th and Oct 15th of 2016. We will also deliver a “virtual cockpit” experience such that users can visualize what the pilot sees, telemetry, and controls…a combination of science and visual art. An interesting note is this will be done from a physical location where no Internet or cellular communications exists…done with a satellite feed to a global audience in milliseconds.

NAE is much more than a “race” for record.  It is a team that embodies all of us, the human race, challenging the status quo through a mission nearly 2 decades. Funding support is greatly appreciated to ease the financial burden the NAE team shelters themselves to bring this event to life in a new digital era.  You can make a small donation at their Web site, to help ease the personal expense of the 6 week long and massive logistical effort to ready the craft for its run into history…be a part of history.

Follow us on Twitter: @PegasusMission as Pegasus Mission-NAE team prepares to deliver another risky and unique STEM experience in real-time…this time at the speed of sound

Pegasus Mission Goes Supersonic with NAE

The flight of Pegasus II made international headlines with 50 MS FTEs participating in the project to deliver a real-time experience to a global audience from 100,000 feet in the upper atmosphere.  The team challenged assumptions about what is possible and made a little history in the process.  To that end we successfully had 20+ articles written about the flight, over 8M readers, viewers from 60 countries watching our live video, and thousands of users around the world participating in a real-time flight to near space. Now, we set our goals toward other interesting projects and experiences.

The Pegasus Mission is partnering with North American Eagle (NAE) to help support and promote the attempt at breaking the Land Speed Record.  We will run a series of experiments from a high speed vehicle in a remote location and connect this with a global audience in real-time.


NAE uses a Lockheed F-104 Starfighter with wheels as the vehicle to attempt and break the men’s and women’s land speed record.  In less than a few minutes, with afterburners burning 90 gallons of fuel per minute, the vehicle has traveled less than 10 miles and broken the sound barrier.   Our experiment onboard the NAE will test our ability to broadcast telemetry live from a rapidly moving object from a remote location and provide this to a global audience.  Additionally, we want to the audience with a sense of what it is like to be sitting in the pilot’s seat traveling faster than sound on land.

Part 1 – Experiment

We will be building a small device that captures a minimal set of telemetry within the cockpit of the NAE.  This telemetry will be broadcast over a 2-way radio back to our ground station at base camp.  The ground unit will be wired to our field gateway, which will then send the telemetry over a portable SATCOM to our operational technology (Piraeus) in the Microsoft Cloud.  A Web site connected to Piraeus and receive the telemetry and display the live feed to a global audience.  Because of the brief duration of the run, we will leverage our Twitter and Twilio feeds to alert users and keep them informed.

Bonus – If we have enough time, we may enable users to send a message to the NAE over the Web site and capture their message onboard the craft.

This enables us to discover new knowledge in reliable remote and high speed communications with a global audience, which is applicable to wide range of scenarios.

Part 2 – Cockpit Experience

The NAE collects a large amount of telemetry (2048 measurements/second from each of the 28 sensors) to help them analyze the configuration after a run.  The telemetry is offloaded after the run through a WiFi network setup on the ground.  This means we can access the telemetry very quickly after the NAE has completely its run. A video camera is positioned over the pilot’s left should that shows their view of the run.   We will break the telemetry down to into a usable pilot-like experience, e.g., throttle position, stick position, speed, weight on wheels, nose angle, etc., etc., and couple this will the video to provide a synchronize experience shortly after the run is complete.  Once completed will we upload over our SATCOM to the MS Cloud and users will be able to experience a virtual “ride of your life” with the video and virtual cockpit design over a Web site.

North American Eagle – expected test run Aug-Sep 2016

@PegasusMission and @landspeed763

Dare Mighty Things 🙂

Pegasus II – News Articles


Pegasus II mission sends balloon high above Earth and invites you along for an Internet of Things ride

Go on an Internet of Things ride with the Pegasus II mission – 100,000 feet to near space

You Can Play Mission Control With a Weather Balloon Today

Microsoft Is Testing Azure IoT Platform From The Stratosphere

Get in touch with the stratosphere through Microsoft’s Pegasus II balloon mission

Cosmic Log
Pegasus will put you in touch with stratosphere

Participate in Pegasus II—Real-time Internet of Things experiment from the edge of space

Cloud Computing Today
Microsoft’s Pegasus II Balloon Promises To Illustrate Azure IoT Capabilities

Electronic Component News Magazine
Participate in Pegasus II: Real-Time IoT Experiment From Edge of Space

Participate in Pegasus II, the Microsoft Real-time Internet of Things experiment from the edge of space
Microsoft shows off Azure IoT with Pegasus II mission – get real time info on your Android, iOS or Windows Phone “ÏoT from the edge of space.”

Microsoft wants you to participate in Pegasus II, an IoT experiment from the edge of space

Balloon News
Pegasus Mission looks to combine high altitude ballooning with social media

Silicon Investor
Microsoft Is Testing Azure IoT Platform From The Stratosphere

Internet of Business
Microsoft’s Azure helps send IoT into space

Microsoft Power User
Microsoft testing Azure IoT platform in the actual clouds

Net of Everything
Ride through the stratosphere with Pegasus II

Hey Event
Pegasus II Flight to 100,000 feet

Follow the flight of Pegasus II tomorrow


IoT, Azure cloud: Microsoft Pegasus II

Anam Khan
Get in touch with the stratosphere through Microsoft’s Pegasus II balloon mission