Yesterday they announced that their first moon-balloon prototype will launch in October. Once again, they're bristling with innovation: Rather than working with costly staging systems of the sort that keep causing Korean satellites to crash, the Romanians have a plan. They're going to tie the second and third stages to the first with a bit of cable. Once the first stage is done, they'll cut the cable and fire the second. When that runs out, they'll cut the cord and fire the third! If you're in doubt about whether this can work, ARCA has created another incredible video for you to watch that shows just how it will happen (see below).Wayne
I first heard the phrase "playground events" at the 2008 Kentucky Space seminar and it's stuck with me ever since.
The vision of building a Kentucky space program with Kentucky talent can't be achieved without engaging kids in primary school. So it's no coincidence that there has been a lot of thought given to showing them how exciting space can be.
Creating playground events is one way to build early enthusiasm.
As part of that effort, KySpace launched its first high altitude balloon last summer from the Bowling Green airport and invited children to come out and contribute a payload, pongsats, that flew along with the serious hardware. It was, as UK Engineering Professor Jim Lumpp described, a really good day, and more such launches are planned.
As shown in the pictures here and described by Tyler Doering, the lead graduate student for KySat-1, the basic idea for bringing an orbital mission to kids is to take portable equipment to playgrounds and let them interact with and listen to their satellite.
In addition to the VHF/UHF radio, an S-band radio on board KySat-1 will be used in conjunction with the 21 meter dish at the Space Sciences Center at Morehead State University for communication. More on that, as well as how Kentucky Space has been able to help a German cubesat project, "Compass One," can be found here.
[Update] If you're dropping by from the Carnival of Space, Dr. David Livingston will host Kris Kimel, who founded Kentucky Space, on his Dec. 23 show. Links to the times and live audio for the The Space Show may be found here.
Here are four press notices pointing out KySpace's "Balloon-1" success. If you know of others, please let me know and I'll add them. These and all other posts related to Balloon-1 have been added to the blog sidebar for easy reference.
On July 14, 2008, Kentucky Space, supported by the Kentucky National Guard and the Department of Homeland Defense, successfully launched from the Bowling Green/Warren County Regional Airport a high altitude balloon to the edge of space (Kentucky Space Balloon-1).
Well, Kentucky Space balloon-1 was a success on all levels. For the first time in Kentucky, a scientific payload soared into the stratosphere, reaching a height of almost 90,000 feet before plunging back to the earth.
Everything went real smooth: the scientific data was collected and we could watch the ascent the whole way up until the black sky could be seen against the earth's curvature. Equally amazing, the payload was recovered about three hours after the mission began, having traveled about 80 miles from the launch site.
For me, invited as an observer, the most wonderful moment was not the launch, or the live images, but the sight of students from different Kentucky universities working together on the countdown check while just a few feet away, kids just six or seven years old were sitting on the floor carefully assembling the pong-sats, or pearl-sats. These tiny "satellites," which are made from ping-pong balls, are stuffed with all sorts of fun things, such as marshmallows, to demonstrate what happens when the payload reaches the low-density of the stratosphere.
Two levels of students engaged in two levels of education, genuine excitement from those attending the launch, great help from Kentucky's Homeland Security and it was a unique demonstration on the power of an event like this to inspire.
I can't wait to get the results from the scientific payloads, and see what we can do next.