Archive for June, 2008

JP on the Space Show Today

Monday, June 30th, 2008

I’ll be on the Space Show radio program today. I’ll be on from 2:00pm till 3:30pm Pacific Time.

I’ll blog during the show and let you know how it’s going. To listen on the web goto:

NASA bought a copy!

Friday, June 27th, 2008

I almost fell off my chair. NASA has a copy of “Floating to Space” at their headquarters library.

Thanks guys!

Away 35 and Tandem Work

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Away 35 and the Tandem airship are the two mission currently on deck. We’re still working out the team scheduling for Away 35. We expect to get it in the air very soon. As you’ve read, we’ve been spending the time banging our collective heads trying to squeeze more range out of the command telemetry system. We’ve been also putting the finishing touches on the new data gathering/logging system. The first experiment to use the data gather/logger will a drag management system for the Ascender airship. No drag will be managed on Away 35. It will just be a shake down of the system running at 120,000 feet.

Tandem has had a few modifications. The performance of the transmitting video has been very poor on the last few away missions. Upon inspection it looks like this gear has spend way too much time at altitude (over 20 flights to 100,000 feet) and it needs to be replaced. However, that’s not going to happen until next years budget, so the system and it’s four camera heads were pulled. The three pound weight saving will be taken up my an additional recording video camera. This also allowed us to move the backup GPS telemetry system to the spot where the video transmitter was. That solves an intermittent problem we were having with that system causing interference with the circuit on the parachute cannon.

High Pics from the Past

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

Here’s a few images taken above 100,000 feet on a JPA mission sometime ago.

Balloon burst

Above 100,000 feet

Above 100,000 feet

More Telemetry Tests

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

Saturday was again spent working on telemetry. We had the system at double the range of last Saturday, but we’re still not there yet. I’m not worried though. Every moment invested in telemetry is a moment well spent. Bad telemetry means loss of vehicle, iffy test data, and longer development times. With solid telemetry all things are possible.

Telemetry Testing

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

We spent all day Saturday working through telemetry issues. We’re still not getting the performance we should out of the 900 mhz system. We set up the mission control van and all the antennas in the parking lot just like we were in the field on a mission. We then hiked for the road with the flight systems. When there was enough ground clutter to start messing up the transmission the work would begin. We would swap antennas, cables, radios, connectors, change configurations, switch from shore power to batteries, everything got a once over. We really shook down the system. After melting all day, it was almost a hundred degrees out on the street, we found a weird problem involving the an amp and one of big dishes.

We’re still narrowing it down, but now it’s in our sights.

“Floating to Space” is Out!

Monday, June 9th, 2008

The book is finally out on bookstore shelves. If you don’t see it just ask.

Book Cover

The first review also out:

“John M. Powell is the sort of visionary who gets locked up as a madman.”

Ouch, and that was from a guy who liked the book! I must strongly disagree however. Not “madman”, the proper title is “Mad Scientist”.