Launch Announcement – SpeedBall-1:The Real Deal!

I’m Proud to announce the first, and possibly only major flight of White Star, our pride and joy, on the cutting edge of amateur science and engineering, SpeedBall-1, “Lally“:

Link for live video stream and chat will appear here.

Tracking page:  (note this may show (and be marked as)simulated testing data up until about 5PM ET Saturday.

Launch time: 7:45PM ET Saturday (2345 UTC 12 May) 10:00PM ET (02:00 UTC) May 12th.

Launch Location: Spaceport Indiana (KBAK Airport)

Cruise Altitude: 70,000 ft  (We’re movin’ on up!)

Flight Duration Expected: 24-72 hours

Estimated Ground Track:  Very slow wandering around the middle USA for several days.

Balloon System: A hybrid floater, with a latex balloon doing the heavy lifting to 21km altitude, far above the ZP’s original design altitude of 10km.  The ZP will still provide the function of venting helium to arrest the climb and establish a float.

  •  Zero Pressure Polyethylene envelope, 660 ft^3, custom made Global Western design, with White-star designed one-way plate valve, featuring a silicone seat, and PVC pipe port at the top for He temp sensor.
  • Latex envelope, 1600g, Hwoyee latex tow balloon balloon courtesy of WB8ELK, Bill Brown.

Payloads of note: 

  • Remotely triggerable Go Pro Camera (Simultaneous wide angle view of both balloon above and horizon/ground in front)
  • Supervising AVR Flight Computer communicating with 3 Arduino modules via I2C, including SatcomController (Mega 2560), SensorController(FIO), and BallastController(Boarduino)
  • Iridium-Arduino Satellite Communication Shield by White Star with command uplinking and adjustable telemetry intervals
  • Nichrome deadman cutdown by Carl Lyster, WA4ADG
  • ZP balloon lift gas anti-dilution valve by Gary Flispart
  • 54 Energizer Lithium AA Batteries
  • 5.5lbs of C2H6O ballast in a SNOX-style electric solenoid drain ballast bottle
  • Humidity Sensor
  • Cloud particle sensor
  • Temperature sensors
  • Helium internal temperature sensor
  • Raw battery pack voltage sensor


Lift Helium proudly provided by SpacePort Indiana and Praxair Gases.

First Launch date Dec 18!

First flight launch looks like it will be (tentative!) December 18, 2010, from SpacePort Indiana!  SpeedBall-1 will be the name of this mission, it will be a medium range test of the trans-atlantic robot balloon system.  What does ‘medium range’ mean?  It’s not going to Europe, but it should go pretty far – outside of the US anyway.  It’s not long range because of some things we need to test on the balloon, the cutdown device being one, that will cause a shorter than normal flight.  After SpeedBall-1, trans-atlantic crossing attempts are expected to begin!  Sign up here for email notification of launch time and flight tracking details:

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