The Louisiana ACES student-built BalloonSat program

Department of Physics and Astronomy, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
Advances in Space Research (Impact Factor: 1.36). 01/2006; 38(10):2253-2258. DOI: 10.1016/j.asr.2006.02.020


A major concern of many aerospace industries and space agencies worldwide is the continuing decrease in undergraduate student enrollment and graduation from aerospace and closely related degree programs. With a decreasing number of new aerospace workforce candidates, expanding or sustaining our exploration of the universe over the coming decades could be at risk. In Louisiana, we have developed the Aerospace Catalyst Experiences for Students (ACES) program to address this issue by attracting new students to aerospace-related programs and providing interdisciplinary training on how to design, build, and manage aerospace payloads. Based upon the National Space Grant Student Satellite Program “Crawl, Walk, Run, Fly!” methodology, ACES closely ties cross-discipline content knowledge with extensive hands-on experiences to instill skills that are then applied by the students to design, document, build, test, and operate a small balloon-borne scientific payload. The ACES concept was initially piloted during 2002–2003 and now includes a semi-formal “Student Ballooning Course”, five Louisiana institutions and serves ∼45 students.

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    ABSTRACT: The High Altitude Student Platform (HASP) was originally conceived to provide student groups with access to the near-space environment for flight durations and experiment capabilities intermediate between what is possible with small sounding balloons and low Earth orbit rocket launches. HASP is designed to carry up to twelve student payloads to an altitude of about 36 km with flight durations of 15–20 h using a small zero-pressure polyethylene film balloon. This provides a flight capability that can be used to flight-test compact satellites, prototypes and other small payloads designed and built by students. HASP includes a standard mechanical, power and communication interface for the student payload to simplify integration and allows the payloads to be fully exercised. Over the last two years a partnership between the NASA Balloon Program Office (BPO), Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF), Louisiana State University (LSU), the Louisiana Board of Regents (BoR), and the Louisiana Space Consortium (LaSPACE) has led to the development, construction and, finally, the first flight of HASP with a complement of eight student payloads on September 4, 2006. Here we discuss the primary as-built HASP systems and features, the student payload interface, HASP performance during the first flight and plans for continuing HASP flights. The HASP project maintains a website at where flight application, interface documentation and status information can be obtained.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2008 · Advances in Space Research