PSAS Flies test payload about NASA hasp balloon

On September 14th, 2021, PSAS members flew a test payload aboard NASA's High Altitude Student Platform (HASP), which was lofted to 100,000 ft for over 12 hours by a giant helium balloon the size of a football field.

The flight tested the short wave infrared (SWIR) camera that is the main science instrument for the Cirrus Flux Camera (CFC), one of the primary missions for our 2U OreSat CubeSat.

The flight was our first big integration test of the open source OreSat CubeSat system, including an ad-hoc ground station. The CFC system worked extremely well; see the composite video on the right over the course of the 12+ hour flight.

We also learned a tremendous amount about the OreSat system during our HASP "field operations", which set us on the path to success for the OreSat0 mission.

The balloon flight was flown at the Fort Sumner launch site of the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF).

Here's the 2021 HASP flight map from CSBF.


Did everything. He got is into HASP, got us there, and made it all work.

Good job, Marvin! That was a lot of work.

Integration and Test

We integrated the "Oresat1b" test CubeSat onto the balloon platform.

Ready to go

Here's OreSat1b mounted on the balloon platform, ready for flight.

Cirrus flux camera

This is our primary test; the Cirrus Flux Camera. That's a SWIR lens and camera, and lots of copper for a heatsink for the thermal electric cooler.

OreSat Live

We also tested the OreSat Live Schmidt Cassegrain Lens and camera system but unfortunately that system just wasn't ready for the test. Notice the 45 degree mirror used as a "periscope" too look down.

Hanging on ropes

The entire balloon platform is weighed, balanced, and brought out to the tarmac for flight


The balloon is inflated with Helium if the winds are calm enough, and the payload is ready to go.

And launch!

It's quite something see something the size of a football stadium lift off the ground.


Telemetry beacons were gathered from the flight as if the payload was in space; we used telecommands to turn on and off systems. The cirrus flux camera automatically captured images from about 50,000 ft and up

See that very bright white dot that looks like a small moon? That's no moon; that's the balloon catching the sunlight despite it being dusk on the ground.

This was an integral experience for getting the CFC mission and OreSat ready for flight; thank you to the NASA HASP program for making this happen!