$2,402 pledged of $14,000 goal
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All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .

By Marty Griffin
$2,402 pledged of $14,000 goal
backers

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .

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Proof of Concept

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Prototype Gallery

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About this project

Project Summary

EOSS and University of Colorado students plan to launch two high-altitude balloons with high-definition cameras and scientific equipment to directly coincide with the Total Solar Eclipse that will occur on Monday, August 21, 2017. These research flights will be launched from Guernsey, Wyoming - directly under the eclipse path to assure flight in the area of eclipse totality.

This project will fund implementation of new FAA aircraft location technology which will allow additional payload space on each balloon flight. This expanded capability, to be shared with all balloon groups, will enable more university and STEM students to send more research experiments to near space.

Goal #1: Successful Eclipse Balloon Mission

Our first goal during these balloon flights is to collect and stream live images, video and data to study this extremely rare event. These flights are in coordination with NASA's Space Grant Ballooning Project on behalf of the Colorado Space Grant Consortium.  This is an opportunity to educate our schools and community about the natural world of science.  This part of the project will be funded entirely by NASA.  These successful flights will enable us to pursue Goal # 2.

Goal #2:  Expand student participation by implementing new FAA location technology

Based on the success of Goal #1, our second goal is our Kickstarter project goal.  That is to raise funds to support expanded high altitude balloon student research.  Expansion will be enabled by implementing new FAA-certified flight location technology called Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) on our high altitude balloons where previously it has been focused only on aircraft. 

This project will integrate commercially available products only and package a solution to accommodate the rigors of near space flight. 

The FAA currently restricts balloon payload weights, and restricts our ability to fly through clouds which severely limits the number of students that can participate in a flight.  We believe balloon-based ADS-B location technology will allow all balloon groups to serve more students throughout the nation.

Who is Edge of Space Sciences?

Edge of Space Sciences (EOSS) has been launching high altitude balloon experiments on behalf of universities, colleges, high schools and middle schools for over 26 years. Our program has:

  • Directly or indirectly touched over 50,000 university, high school, middle school and STEM students over 26 years.
Fourth-grade students examine their seed experiment recovered from near space
Fourth-grade students examine their seed experiment recovered from near space
  • Supported student experiments designed and built as part of curriculum requirements to investigate scientific principals and phenomenon in near space.
  • Spearheaded and encouraged the start of over 79 university balloon programs and curriculum.
  • Launched over 256 balloon missions directly supporting thousands of students.
  • Recovered 100% of student balloon experiments and returned them so students could complete their study requirements.
Metro State University students examine their recovered stabilization experiment
Metro State University students examine their recovered stabilization experiment
  • Developed and shared innovative high altitude balloon technology with hundreds of balloon groups throughout the world.

The EOSS charter is to "Promote science and education through high altitude balloons and amateur radio".  This pioneering, trend-setting objective has helped originate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in the curriculum of hundreds of higher learning institutions around the U.S.  EOSS is proud of these accomplishments and their hundreds of volunteers and contributors.  "STEM" is now a household word.

EOSS is an all-volunteer organization with no paid employees.  EOSS was incorporated in the State of Colorado in 1991 and is recognized by both Colorado and the U.S. Government as a 501(c)(3), tax exempt, scientific and educational organization.

Amateur Radio (HAM) frequencies are used to control, observe and down-link information to our ground stations. Most of our members are volunteer amateur radio operators who utilize location technology (Automated Packet Reporting System, APRS®) and communications channels to conduct EOSS flights.

EOSS Ground Station
EOSS Ground Station

EOSS.ORG

Our Web site (eoss.org) documents over 256 missions and participating schools such as University of Colorado, Metro State University, all of the NASA Space Grant colleges in Colorado, and schools in the surrounding states.

 Facebook and YouTube Videos

Enjoy some of our flight videos on our Facebook pages at Edge of Space Sciences.  Experiments have also been conducted for NOAA, NASA and other scientific organizations throughout the U.S.  Search YouTube for EOSS and enjoy the many videos that have been produced over the years. 

As an example, this 18 March 2017 Edge of Space Flight video contains some additional footage taken during the launch prep phase of the mission, along with some footage of the chase vehicles and the recovery operations. The flight was made possible through funding by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA} and key support from the EOSS and National Science and Technology Institute (NSSTI) organizations supporting STEM education.

Recent flights have been documented on YouTube and can be found here. Or visit our photo page here.

It's All About Timing!  2017 Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017

NASA Supports the Great American Eclipse of 2017
NASA Supports the Great American Eclipse of 2017

This EOSS Kick Starter campaign coincides with the Great American Eclipse of 2017, August 21.  The NASA ECLIPSE BALLOONING PROJECT enables students to conduct high-altitude balloon flights from more than 50 locations across the 2017 total eclipse path, from Oregon to South Carolina, providing live videos and images from near space. Check it out!  https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/balloon-observations

In coordination with University of Colorado, Montana State University and NASA, EOSS will launch two observation balloons from Guernsey, Wyoming which is directly in the path of the 2017 Total Eclipse.  Videos, images and live streaming will be delivered during the eclipse, rain or shine, from 18 miles above the earth's atmosphere. 

Track of the 2017 Total Eclipse Across Wyoming
Track of the 2017 Total Eclipse Across Wyoming

Eclipse timing will allow EOSS to provide eclipse-related rewards to our Kickstarter backers as we attempt to finance a solution to the following problem to be shared with all high altitude balloon groups.  Various reward levels, based on these eclipse flights will be special certificates of appreciation, USPS Eclipse Stamps, images, videos, and real-time access to the balloon flight progress.

Why EOSS needs you!

Each EOSS balloon flight string accommodates research experiments built by teams of 5-6 students, with as many as 10 experiments on each flight.  Each Saturday deployment results in as many as launching three, 3Kgm balloons (heavies) impacting as many as 150 student scientists - and their grades.  These "heavy" flights have payloads greater than 12 pounds which triggers a FAA rule that denies flight into cloud cover greater that 5/10.

One week before each flight, EOSS files with the FAA Air Traffic Control (ATC), a High Altitude Balloon (HIBAL) Prelaunch Notice which is updated as required.  During the flights, EOSS maintains telephone contact with the FAA ATC.

In  past FAA coordination efforts, EOSS has designed and implemented web-based software to interface with FAA flight controllers.  The software specifies the location and altitude of balloons in relationship to VOR locations, which are currently used for aircraft navigation. This software is shared with all balloon groups in the U.S.

The Problem to be Solved:

The EOSS problem is the FAA ATC has unexpectedly denied the cloud cover waiver granted to EOSS since 2009.  This means that "heavy" flights with total payload weight exceeding 12 pounds cannot be launched when the cloud cover exceeds 5/10 coverage. 

As a result, a cloud cover delay for a heavy balloon typically results in:

  • Reducing the weight of the student payloads to less than 12 pounds, thus leaving important student payloads on the ground and denying those students the opportunity to experiment in near space.
  • Rescheduling students from around the nation, incurring additional transportation costs, lodging costs, and faculty issues.
  • Rescheduling exerts a strain on the many EOSS volunteers who have dedicated a full day to launch and recover payloads.

The Proposed Solution:  ADS-B

Automatic Dependant Surveillance - Broadcast
Automatic Dependant Surveillance - Broadcast

 ADS-B is a NextGen technology that enhances safety and efficiency, and directly benefits pilots, controllers, airports, airlines, and the public. It forms the foundation for NextGen by moving from ground radar and navigational aids to precise tracking using satellite signals.

The FAA is phasing out their ground radar reflective technology and ground-based transponder interrogation system for locating aircraft in flight.  By the year 2020 all flying aircraft will be required to broadcast their location using Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology. Federal Regulations 14 CFR 91.225 and 14 CFR 91.227 contain the details.

For more information on ADS-B, see:  ADS-B

EOSS believes that balloon ADS-B technology might be acceptable to the FAA if the FAA were to be shown a tested and reliable body of work acquired from several EOSS coordinated balloon test flights.  These test flights, done in full coordination with the FAA, would involve flying an ADS-B transponder on a heavy balloon that exceeded 60,000 feet in altitude and then returns via a parachute to a landing on the eastern Colorado plains. These flights would aptly demonstrate the functionality of the ADS-B transponder on the balloon providing very timely and accurate position (latitude, longitude and altitude) data via the existing FAA ADS-B network to FAA control centers. This would allow the FAA to safely include balloon flights with existing commercial, private and military flights under their control.

If these tests succeed, then cloud cover should no longer be restricted for those flights utilizing ADS-B to broadcast balloon locations during flight.  This acceptance will open the use of balloon flights for flying student experiments for considerably more students and in a more scheduled manner consistent with instructors lesson plans and course learning goals

FAA acceptance of ADS-B beacons on high altitude balloon flights will allow EOSS (and other balloon organizations’) to fly heavy flights and avoid expensive rescheduling of flights. Students and instructors would not be impacted with costly delays, duplicated rentals and delayed course completions.

Our Plan

EOSS plans to use Kickstarter funds to create a body of work to present to the FAA for their approval. FAA approval will allow heavy (greater than 12 lb of student payloads)  FAA coordinated balloon flights through cloud cover. This body of work will include:

  • Adapting ADS-B equipment to operate in adverse, violent atmospheric conditions encountered by high altitude balloons.
  • Several test flights in coordination with the FAA to determine balloon location reliability
  • Discussions with the FAA regarding the success of the testing
  • Acquiring FAA approval to fly ADS-B equipped balloons so that cloud cover becomes a non-issue
  • Negotiating with the FAA to develop reporting procedures, documentation and standards to be shared by all balloon groups in the world.
  • Scaling down the cost of ADS-B so as to make the technology accessible to other balloon groups.

Expected Costs, Funding Objectives

The FAA certified ADS-B technology, in its early adopter form for this project is expensive.  EOSS engineers have explored this technology, but to prove the concept, we need to acquire equipment - thus the Kick Starter campaign.  EOSS seeks to fund four ADS-B FAA-Certified transmitters and a full software development environment.  The costs break down as follows:

  • Four ADS-B devices to fly and test:   $8,000
  • Development, test environment:        $6,000
  • Total Required for Project:                $14,000

EOSS engineers expect the cost of FAA-certified ADS-B technology to decline over the next 18 months.  EOSS engineers will approach ADS-B vendors for better pricing, prototypes, access to technical support, and design guidance.

Funding through Kickstarter will be accomplished through reward incentives associated with the Great American Eclipse of 2017. This mission will fly two balloons from Guernsey, Wyoming during the full solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. In coordination with NASA, the University of Colorado and Montana State University, these flights will soar above cloud cover and deliver images of the eclipse.

 Rewards Summary

The following rewards will apply for a successful August 21, 2017 Eclipse flight:

 $5:  Certificate of Appreciation
Download Your Certificate of Appreciation from EOSS and NASA Colorado Space Grant

NASA Colorado Space Grant Consortium
NASA Colorado Space Grant Consortium

$10 Spectacular Photo of Eclipse
All of the $5 reward, plus download an authentic, high resolution eclipse photo taken from the eclipse balloon.

$25 Spectacular 10-Photo Gallery of Eclipse
All of the $10 reward, plus download a 10-photo gallery of unedited, high resolution eclipse photos, taken from the balloon.

$50 2 Hour Video from the Balloon
All of the $25 reward, plus a download of the full, unedited video taken from the balloon in flight.

$100 Video of the Flight Operations
All of the $50 reward, plus a professionally edited video of the entire balloon flight operation with audio.

$250 Official USPS Eclipse Stamps (16)
All of the $100 reward, plus a page of 16 Official USPS Eclipse Stamps, certified flown on the balloon. The Total Eclipse of the Sun stamp is the first U.S. stamp to use thermometric ink, which reacts to the heat of your touch. Placing your finger over the black disc on the stamp causes the ink to change from black to clear to reveal an underlying image of the moon. The image reverts back to the black disc once it cools.

USPS Solar Eclipse Stamp shows eclpse when cool, the moon when warmed by a thumb
USPS Solar Eclipse Stamp shows eclpse when cool, the moon when warmed by a thumb

$1000: Your Name or Sponsor Logo on Balloon Payload
All of the $250 reward, plus your name or sponsor logo on the side of a balloon payload. An attempt will be made to photograph your name or logo while aloft. Payloads will be photographed before launch and photos provided for this reward.

$1500 or more:  EOSS Will Launch Your School Payload
All of the $1,000 reward, plus EOSS will schedule an Eclipse Reward flight. You are invited to launch an educational student payload into near space during the summer of 2018! Payload maximum weight is one pound and is subject to FAA/EOSS flight rules. Backers may attend and participate during the flight. If unable to attend, EOSS will launch your payload and provide video and photos from near space.

Risks and challenges

EOSS has a talented group of scientists and engineers that will implement and support this ADS-B project. To name a few:
• Stephen Meer, Lead Engineer, ADS-B Project Integrator
• Mark Patton, Lead Flight Hardware & Software Integrator
• Nick Hanks, Lead Application Designer
• Russ Chadwick, Lead FAA Liaison
• Marty Griffin, ADS-B Project Lead & Balloon Tracking and Recovery Coordinator

Each lead scientist has a deep understanding of the objectives, the ADS-B technology, the FAA, and software applications to be developed. Each lead will have a supporting team of EOSS members to contribute their talents.

Like any project of this magnitude, There are some challenges to consider:

1. In case of high winds at the Guernsey, Wyoming launch site, we may not be able to launch during the eclipse. This Kick Starter campaign is highly dependent on a successful launch of at least one balloon. Should we fail to launch at least one balloon, campaign backer pledges will be suspended.

2. While small aircraft will be using ADS-B to broadcast their location to the FAA, the FAA has been non-committal regarding the concept of flying ADS-B on balloons. EOSS has a long, respectful relationship with the FAA and we feel the proposed body of work will be well-received.

3. The body of work should be convincing enough to prove that ADS-B balloon implementations are safe and should allow ADS-B to bypass the FAA cloud cover restriction. The FAA will rely on a clear, definitive body of work which EOSS will provide.

4. While EOSS is optimistic, the scaled-down costs for all balloon groups will take some effort. Like all technology, costs always go down.

5. While preliminary investigation of ADS-B products has been conducted, not all products are FAA certified.

6. The ADS-B team is confident this technology will test successfully, provide accurate balloon location information and satisfy the FAA requirements.

7. EOSS has yet to afford the equipment to test the ADS-B hardware and software for balloon implementations. Thus the main reason for this Kick Starter campaign.

8. Testing and interfacing with the FAA could take as much as 10 months. EOSS has the right team in place to negotiate this objective.

9. ADS-B devices transmit with high power for a short period of time. The interaction between ADS-B and EOSS flight critical payloads and student experiments is currently unknown.

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    Flight-Certified Eclipse Stamps (16)

    All of the $100 reward, plus a page of 16 Official USPS Eclipse Stamps, certified flown on the balloon. The Total Eclipse of the Sun stamp is the first U.S. stamp to use thermochromic ink, which reacts to the heat of your touch. Placing your finger over the black disc on the stamp causes the ink to change from black to clear to reveal an underlying image of the moon. The image reverts back to the black disc once it cools.

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    Your Name or Logo on Balloon Payload

    All of the $250 reward, plus your name or logo on the side of a balloon payload. An attempt will be made to photograph your name or logo while aloft. Payloads will be photographed before launch and photos provided for this reward.

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    EOSS Will Launch Your School Payload

    All of the $1,000 reward, plus EOSS will schedule a Colorado Eclipse Reward flight. You are invited to help launch an educational student payload into near space during the summer of 2018! Payload maximum weight is one pound and is subject to FAA/EOSS flight rules. Backers may attend a Colorado event and participate in the flight. If unable to attend, EOSS will launch your payload and provide video and photos from near space.

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