Nova 20 launch with Wombat and Squirrel

Last weekend saw the 20th launch in the CUSF Nova balloon project, carrying two payloads – the experimental Wombat flight computer, and the Squirrel Android flight computer.

We also used for the first time the excellent F-203AV mass flow controller (kindly on loan from Bronkhorst who support CU Spaceflight) for regulating the helium filling of the balloon.

Cambridge from the air

Radio transmission from Squirrel failed on launch due to what turned out to be physical damage to the connection between the phone and the NTX2 FM transmitter, but fortunately the payload was still able to be located with the SMS location tracking (landing in a field near Bishop Stortford – Google Maps). The balloon reached a maximum altitude of 22km, and a large number of photos and videos were captured – see the Squirrel 3 Flickr set for them all!

The Wombat flight computer was a test payload, and unfortunately had some difficulty keeping PLL lock during the flight, making it very difficult to track. We’re now refining the radio design for the next launch.

Here’s a video of the payload tumbling at around 22km altitude just after the balloon burst:

Space Boffins Podcast

Earlier this month we recorded an interview with the Space Boffins podcast about the smartphone satellite project we are currently working on, ‘Scream in Space’ (we’ll be posting more information about this in the coming weeks!).

The podcast is now out and you can listen to the CUSF interview here:

[audio:http://www.cusf.co.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/SpaceBoffinsCUSF.mp3|titles=Space Boffins|artists=CUSF]

Check out the full podcast, also featuring Space Shuttle engineer Matt Melis, over at Audioboo. To learn more about the STRaND nanosatellite, see here, and to find our about some of our previous Android experiments, take a look at this recent report from Squirrel 2.0.