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Stratofox Aerospace Tracking Team PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Stratofox Aerospace Tracking Team. Presented by Ian Kluft Space Access '09 Conference Phoenix, Arizona April 2-4, 2009. About Stratofox. About Stratofox. We're an amateur group which performs tracking services for high altitude rocket and balloon flights

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Stratofox aerospace tracking team l.jpg

StratofoxAerospace Tracking Team

Presented by Ian KluftSpace Access '09 ConferencePhoenix, ArizonaApril 2-4, 2009

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About Stratofox

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About Stratofox

  • We're an amateur group which performs tracking services for high altitude rocket and balloon flights

  • Our team has familiarity with the Black Rock Desert region, a rocket launch site in Northern Nevada

  • Members have experience in high-power rocketry, Ham Radio, 4x4, amateur astronomy, search & rescue, wilderness first responder, etc

  • Our goal is to get invitations to “all the cool launches” for our members and help the civilian entrepreneurial aerospace industry get off the ground

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What does Stratofox's name mean?

  • It stands for “Stratospheric foxhunt”.

  • The Stratosphere is the layer of the atmosphere from 40,000' to 120,000'.

  • Hams call a hidden transmitter search a “foxhunt”

  • The most challenging type of transmitter hunt is one where the transmitter fell from the sky.

  • So no one can tell you where they hid it.

  • That's what we do.

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Quick History

  • Founded in late 2002

  • First high-altitude rocket recovery in June 2003 – Paragon Labs' Dragoon I (mid-altitude systems test)altitude 16 miles, found 6 miles away

  • Recovered first amateur rocket launched to space, CSXT Space Shot in May 2004altitude 72 miles, found 25 miles away

  • Recovered 8 high-altitude balloons in 2007-2008 for Stanford University and NASA Ames which flew to altitudes up to 100,000', found up to 80 miles away

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Which events has Stratofox supported?

  • Paragon Dragoon I, II, IIB 2003-2005

  • CSXT Space Shot 2004

  • AeroPac To100K (3 launches) 2005-2006

  • Stanford BioLaunch B07A-F/B08A-B 2007-present

  • Soka University (Japan) CanSat recovery 2008

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Stratofox and Paragon start together

  • Paragon's test launch of Dragoon I in 2003 was Stratofox's first recovery

  • Continued to support Paragon space launch efforts in 2004 and 2005

  • Assistance planned as ground crew for Lunar Lander Challenge

Stratofox locates ParagonDragoon I in 15 minutes(June 2003)

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CSXT Space Shot 2004Stratofox recovers the spacecraft

  • Used radio direction finding for secondary beacon attached to parachute

  • almost got there on first day – had to get everyone off mountain before dark

  • rescued two spectators who were also trying to look for it and broke down

  • found it at 6100' elevation after very strenuous hike around noon on May 18

Stratofox group picture: Will Galloway AE6EY, Ian Kluft KO6YQ, Jeremy Cooper KE6JJJ, Sean Lynch KG6CVV, Randy Palmer WA6LCD, Steve Palmer KA6DHU and Rob Palmer. Not shown: Diane Palmer KC6HVP, Christian Void KF6IHU, Colleen Brennan and Jay Lawson.

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Stratofox recovers CSXT booster

Booster lost radio transmitters on re-entry – recovered 6 months later

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AeroPac To100K launches

  • 3 launches in 2005-2006

  • Attempts to reach 100,000' with commercial hobby motors

  • Stratofox supported with air and ground search, radio communications and safety coordination

AeroPac To100K launchesat Nevada's Black Rock Desert

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Stanford BioLaunch balloons

  • NASA-funded balloon experiments

  • Stratofox supported balloon flights by Stanford University

  • Stratofox supported with air & ground search, communications and safety coordination

  • Stanford was so confident in Stratofox that B07E/F and B08A/B were flown in simultaneous pairs

B07A Jan 2007 near

Gilroy, California

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Stanford BioLaunch balloons

B08A Mar 2008 near

Merced, California

B07C May 2007 near

Tracy, California

B07F Dec 2007 near

Los Banos, California

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Soka University CanSat Search

  • AeroPac & Stanford launched a CanSat on a rocket for Soka University (Japan) at Black Rock in Sept 2008

  • CanSat was not recovered

  • Stratofox was called for help

  • 3x3 mile search area

  • Outlook: very unlikely!

Stratofox planned a 3x3 mile visual

search area across the Quinn River

Sink at the Black Rock Desert

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Soka University CanSat search

  • Stratofox expedition to search for missing CanSat on Nov 23, 2008

  • With some planning and lots of luck... we found it!

  • A CanSat is the size of a soda can

  • Transmitter was dead

  • Found in visual search

Worse than a needle in a haystack:

a CanSat in the Black Rock Desert

(with dead transmitter!)

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Soka University CanSat search

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Soka University CanSat search

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Soka University CanSat search

CanSat handoff at AeroPac holiday party Dec 7, 2008 in Pacifica, CA

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Other potential upcoming launch support

  • UP Aerospacecommercial launch company formed by CSXT leaders

  • Lunar Lander Challengeground crew for Masten Space, Paragon and SpeedUp

  • Sugar Shot 2 Spaceseeking first amateur launch to space using amateur propellants

  • Various amateur and entrepreneurial projectsballoons and rockets as we're invited to help

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Mars Society's“TEMPO Cubed” Project

  • Tethered Experiment for Mars interPlanetary Operations Cubed

  • CubeSats in centrifugal “artificial gravity”

  • Satellite launch funding delayed in 2008

  • Stratofox beginning to assist with building high-altitude balloon-drop platform so the research can continue

  • New Stratofox project as of March 2009


Image credit: CL Vancil/Mars Society

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Inviting Stratofox to your launch

Stratofox was range safety and search crew for CSXT Space Shot 2004

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Inviting Stratofox to your launch

  • For high-altitude rocket or balloon flights

  • We've also made arrangements to assist as ground crew for some LLC contestants

  • Currently most of our members are in CA/NV, some also in NM, WA, CO, VA

  • It may be possible to recruit and/or train new Stratofox members near your site too

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Training and Recreation

Sunset at Stratofox camp at Upper High Dry Lakebed, September 2008

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Camping and Exploration

  • Stratofox tries to schedule a recreational camping and exploration trip to the Black Rock Desert each year

  • It helps train new members about the area

  • It gives us a chance to explore areas related to upcoming events without pressure

  • We always maintain contact by Amateur Radio

  • Nearest cell coverage is 80 miles south

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Recreational trips to the Black Rock Desert

  • Stratofox 1 – Sept 2002founding event of Stratofox

  • Stratofox 2 – Aug 2003training for CSXT and Paragon space shots

  • Stratofox 3 – Sept 2006exploring after busy years w/ space launches

  • Stratofox 4 – Aug 2007exploration in the Black Rock Range

  • Stratofox 5 – Sept 2008exploration in the Black Rock Range

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Other research resulting from Stratofox exploration

Stratofox member Bob Verish examines rocks in the Black Rock Range

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Suspected impact crater found

  • Clues in the rocks found all over the region during rocket and balloon hunting activities

  • If confirmed, 54 mile / 87 km diameter would be 2nd largest in US (after Chesapeake Bay)

  • Age unknown – many millions of years by amount of erosion

  • Discover Magazine mentioned the research in Dec 2008

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Volunteering for Stratofox

Stratofox camp sites may include bicycles, 4x4s and airplanes

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If you're interested in Stratofox

  • Stratofox is admittedly picky about new membership

  • We have to keep the group trustworthy because some of our partner organizations have considered each other competitors before and others probably will again

  • We have to be trusted by all parties

  • There is no room for spectators in the deep desert –everyone has to “carry their own weight” out there

  • Potential new members need to have a useful skill

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If you're interested in Stratofox

  • You may be referred as a potential new member by any team member who thinks you have what it takes

  • This puts you on “invitee” status

  • Invitees can earn full membership by participating in an event

  • After participating, you can be voted onto the team

    • How well did you do your part?

    • How well did you help the team achieve its goals?

    • How well did you get along with the team?

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Electronics or Aerospace Engineering

Search & Rescue

Emergency medical training (WFR, EMT)

Logistical planning

Got something else you think is useful? Ask!

Useful skills for membership

  • Any of these, the more the better

  • Amateur Radio license

  • Navigation, GPS & maps

  • 4x4/off-roading

  • High-power rocketry cert

  • Private Pilot or better

  • Own an airplane

  • Astronomy

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Out of pocket expenses

  • Historically, all Stratofox volunteers have handled their expenses out of pocket

  • Stratofox's parent/umbrella corporation was granted 501(c)3 status in 2007

  • Volunteer expenses are now tax-deductible

    • Record your mileage and keep your receipts

  • Donations are now tax-deductible

  • Some situations may arise where we can reimburse volunteers for expenses – but don't count on that

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For more information...

  • Web site:

  • Talk mail list – public aerospace discussion

  • Announce-only mail list – if you only want announcements

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The end

Stratofox ground crew gives search plane pilot the shutdown signal

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Additional slides for Q&A(just in case)

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Search for missing CSXT booster

  • No signals heard from the booster after descent and was presumed lost

  • In July 2004, CSXT analysis of Stratofox audio recording of the sonic boom indicated that booster's parachute was deployed on re-entry.

  • Ground searches were done in August.

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Missing CSXT booster recoveredNovember 2004

  • Nov 10 - BLM chartered helicopter doing survey of wild horses finds the booster near where we had searched

  • Nov 15 - BLM notifies CSXT and Stratofox

  • Nov 26 – Stratofox 4x4 expedition in mud/snow recovers the booster hours before a snowstorm

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2004-2005 Paragon space launch attempts

  • Dragoon IIJune 7, 2004 launch in 1st day's windownozzle failure at liftoff, rocket impacted 3 miles away

  • Dragoon IIBSept 27, 2005 launch in 2nd day's windowpayload separation in flight, booster impacted ¾ mile away

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2004-2005 Paragon space launch attempts

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2005-2006 AeroPac “To100K”

  • Rocket club effort to build a rocket to exceed 100,000' with commercially-available solid motors

  • 3 attempts spanning 2005 and 2006

  • First stage (booster) always worked

  • Different failure every time for the 2nd stage

  • Currently in redesign

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2005-2006 AeroPac “To100K”

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Stanford BioLaunch balloons

visual acquisition from the Tracy Airport of B07C climbing through 30,000'

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Stanford BioLaunch balloons

  • “BioLaunch” name comes from primary research, exposing DNA samples to solar radiation at altitude

  • Stanford Aerospace Engineering students also fly satellite electronics to test in near vacuum

  • K12 student experiments on some flights

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BioLaunch B07A – March 2007

  • BioLaunch B07A – March 10, 2007launched from Mt Hamiltonlanded in Henry Coe State Park

  • Landed on top of a tree

  • Successful same-day recovery enabled Stanford to present results to NASA promptly, which enabled further research funding

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BioLaunch B07A – March 2007

  • Sometimes when you find it, you aren't done yet

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BioLaunch B07B – May 2007

  • BioLaunch B07B – May 11, 2007launched from Mt Hamiltonlanded NE of Lodi next to Mokelumne River

  • Landed on top of a tree again(Stanford's mascot is a tree)

  • Stratofox chase plane crew found payloads within 10 minutes of payload touchdown

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BioLaunch B07B – May 2007

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BioLaunch B07C – June 2007

  • BioLaunch B07C – June 9, 2007launched from Galt (south of Sacramento)landed north of Tracy in San Joaquin Delta

  • Landed in corn field right down the furrow

  • Stratofox chase plane crew found it within 15 minutes of payload touchdown

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BioLaunch B07C – June 2007

  • Again, the plane found it in minutes where ground search might have taken hours

  • Ham Radio APRS telemetry received by air and ground crews

  • Plane crew “talked in” the ground crews to the site

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BioLaunch B07D – Aug 2007

  • BioLaunch B07D – Aug 4, 2007launched from Casa de Fruta (E of Gilroy)

  • Part of payload separated and landed in mountains

  • Remainder landed in San Joaquin Valley orchard

  • All day+evening search, both parts recovered

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BioLaunch B07E/F – Dec 2007

  • BioLaunch B07E & B07F – Dec 15, 2007launched from Casa de Fruta (E of Gilroy)

  • B07E flew to 95,000', landed SW of Los Banos

  • B07F aborted at 30,000' by Stanfordlanded near junction of I-5 and SR 165

  • Both recovered in time for lunch

  • Plane grounded in San Jose due to fogarrived 3 minutes after B07E recovery

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BioLaunch B08A/B – Mar 2008

  • BioLaunch B08A & B08B – Mar 8, 2008launched from Galt (south of Sacramento)

  • 3 Stratofox teams started at the launch site

  • 3 started at the Madera Airport (north of Fresno)

  • Both balloons landed near Merced

  • Both recovered in time for lunch (again!)

  • B08A flew to 107,000'

  • B08B flew to 68,000' (as high as planned)

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