MIL Balloon Payload

MIL Balloon Payload

HASP 2008 Launch Attempt

Magnetic Investigation of Luna (MIL) was a payload designed for the 2008 High-Altitude Student Platform (HASP) balloon. I worked on a senior design team at Virginia Tech to design, develop and test the MIL payload for launch within one year. The balloon mission was a technology demonstration for a possible future lunar spacecraft mission. The MIL payload used five cameras pointing in different directions to provide a 3D topographic map of the terrain along the balloon flight path. Our payload did not rely on the main system bus for resources: it had its own power, thermal, and command & data handling subsystems. It did not need a communications subsystem as it saved mission data to an internal memory card which was recovered when the balloon returned to earth.

I served as the sensors/software team lead for the mission. The mapping relied on photogrammetry, the technique of taking pictures of the same object from multiple viewpoints to develop a 3D model of the object. My previous experience with the ARES 1-X mission was very helpful for this project. I developed the five-camera sensing setup based on the projected balloon flight path and photogrammetry software simulations. I tinkered with commercial off the shelf cameras and determined how to control them using an external microprocessor. I was also involved in multiple trips to NASA Wallops for system & TVAC testing.

The HASP balloon with the MIL payload launched on September 15, 2008 and flew for nearly 32 hours before returning to earth.

More information: