A balloon launch from the Peach Mountain radio Observatory, soon to be used by MXL to conduct deep space CubeSat communications
A balloon launch from the Peach Mountain radio Observatory, soon to be used by MXL to conduct deep space CubeSat communications

Project Strato is the high altitude balloon division of MXL.   Founded in May 2013, it has heritage in Stanford’s BioLaunch program and the High Altitude Solutions group from the Michigan Nanosatellite Pipeline. Strato includes both undergraduate and graduate level students from various engineering departments at the University of Michigan. The team’s goals break down into four main categories:

  • Reliable exploration at stratospheric altitudes. The stratosphere provides an excellent vantage point for both Earth observation and space exploration.  Strato is working to provide reliable, long duration flights of low-cost, low-mass flight trains.
  • Develop new technologies to expand the operational envelope of high altitude vehicles. Strato is consistently pursuing new technologies to enable flights to fly higher, further, and with greater capability.  Technologies in development include flight termination units, precision landing, position control, and high speed communication.
  • Utilize technology from MXL to increase balloon capabilities and accelerate current satellite development. Satellites and balloon payloads have a lot in common; communications, power, attitude determination, etc.  As such, Strato provides a test bed for future satellite technologies in a near-space environment, and heritage technology from MXL is used to advance the balloon program.
  • Perform outreach and advance interest in science and technology in the community. High altitude ballooning is an ideal opportunity to involve young students and life-long learners in near-space missions. We are always looking for more opportunities to interact with the community and bring our interest in exploration to others.

Upcoming Flights

Below is a list of planned launch dates with some information on how to follow the launch. If you are interested in participating in a launch in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Note that flight dates are approximate and subject to change. Launch locations are based on wind conditions and will be posted the week prior to a flight.

To track launches live, go to aprs.fi into your browser and search for the tracker call signs listed below.

  • 21 August 2017 – Gallatin, TN: We’re flying imaging systems for the 2017 Eclipse.

Past Flights

Flight Date Launch Location Purpose
23++ TBD TBD Coming soon.
23 10/4/2015 Berkey, OH Fly NASA’s mini SHADO hardware
22 9/1/2015 Cabela’s in Dundee, MI Test flight #2 for the SHADO project
21 8/6/2015 Napoleon High School Test flight #1 for the SHADO project
20 4/25/2015 Jonesville, MI Re-fly of Strato-Sat sensor suite Summary
19 1/24/2015 Michigan Center High School Test of Strato-Sat sensor suite Summary
18 12/19/2014 Hanover, MI Test of Strato-Sat sensor suite Summary
17 10/25/2014 Columbia Central High School Tether flight for outreach event/ test FTU Summary Media
16 9/18/2014 Peach Mountain Radio Observatory Demo tethered flight capability Summary Media
15 7/22/2014 Ovid-Elsie High School Outreach Event, pressure based cut down, and video streaming Summary Media
14 6/13/2014 Hudson, MI FTU and Tracker Test Summary Media
13 6/13/2014 Hudson, MI FTU and Tracker Test Summary Media
12 5/29/2014 Peach Mountain Observatory FTU and Tracker Test Summary Media
11 4/19/2014 Jackson, MI Testing of hardware Summary Media
10 3/16/2014 Coldwater, MI Measurement of flight train dynamics. Summary Media
9 2/15/2014 Battle Creek, MI Measurement of flight train dynamics, and prototype momentum wheel testing Summary Media
8 1/11/2014 Dowagiac, MI Momentum wheel testing Summary Media
7 Scrubbed
6 9/15/2013 Cincinatti, OH Public relations flight for a Strato partner.  Flew a bowtie for Bowtie Cause. Media
5 8/25/2013 Dundee, MI Test ground station antenna controller Media
4 7/29/2013 Pittsford, MI Tech demo of internal balloon environment (pressure and temperature) Media
3 7/19/2013 Tecumseh, MI Measure exterior temperature, humidity, and pressure Media
2 6/19/2013 Dundee, MI Measure internal  temperature, humidity, and pressure Media
1 6/2/2013 Quincy, MI Testing of tracking systems

 

sunrise
Sunrise during Flight 5 over the eastern US and Canada.