LaSPACE Program Seeks College Student Experiments for Near-Space Flight
BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Space Consortium, or LaSPACE, housed at LSU, is accepting applications from graduate and undergraduate university students to fly experiments to the edge of space on a joint scientific ballooning project between LaSPACE and the NASA Balloon Program Office, or BPO.
Successful applicants will have the opportunity to send their experimental payload up to 36 kilometers into the atmosphere for flight durations of 15 to 20 hours in the fall of 2012 with the LaSPACE-maintained, BPO-flown High Altitude Student Platform, or HASP, facility. HASP is a balloon-borne instrument stack that provides an annual near-space flight opportunity for 12 undergraduate and graduate student-built instruments. It is the first balloon carrier specifically designed with a standard interface to support so many experiments per flight, an important feat considering that it can take up to five years for individual research projects to be developed into stand-alone flights.
“HASP is a great opportunity for students to gain real-world experience dealing with experimental near-space payloads,” said Gregory Guzik, HASP director and professor of physics and astronomy at LSU. “The program has been exceptionally successful, with more than 60 payloads involving nearly 370 students having been completed already.”
The deadline for applications for the 2012 flight is Dec. 16. A question-and-answer teleconference for interested parties is scheduled on Nov. 11. Applications will be judged by LaSPACE researchers and a panel of BPO experts from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va.
For application materials, teleconference schedule and additional HASP details, visit http://laspace.lsu.edu/hasp.
The High Altitude Student Platform, or HASP, is the first balloon platform specifically designed to carry multiple payloads using a standard interface that includes mechanical, power and telemetry specifications. The HASP flight system supports the needs of the multiple payloads and presents a single interface to the balloon vehicle control systems. During its more than 75 hours at float over four flights, the HASP flight control system has performed flawlessly monitoring its environment, controlling the student payloads, providing payload data over the Internet in near real-time and, as necessary, uplinking commands to change payload configuration. To date, more than 60 payloads have been accepted for flight on HASP and almost 370 students across multiple disciplines have been involved in some aspect of a HASP student payload. In addition, HASP is a model for how a similar multiple payload balloon platform for professional scientific instruments might be developed and operated.