December Drop TestDecember 17th, 2004
High winds and cold temperatures forced us to cancel a drop test of our new parachute. The original mission objective was to determine the descent rate of the new parachute using a simulated command module load, but the wind was too strong on the St. Paul Agricultural Fields to complete the test. Visit the mission page.
Website UpdateSeptember 30th, 2004
I just updated the L06 page. You can now see selected data graphs from our command module trasmitter. Pictures from the payload and the launch site are up as well. More coming soon! Visit the mission page.
Mission SynopsisSeptember 25th, 2004
Our last mission took us to an altitude of 100,080 feet above North Dakota. We sucessfully launched L06 on Saturday morning at 8:30 Central Time with beautiful weather. The flight traversed only roughly 25 horizonal miles, and was recovered without incident. We carried the Concordia Payload up with our command module. Concordia took data and pictures as well. For a more complete mission summary, visit the mission page.
Website UpdateSeptember 03, 2004
I have updated the documentation page to include information on personnel responsibilities, managment strucutre, selected electrical schemtaics, electronics flowcharts, and a sample flight data sheet. I hope this will provide people with a unique way of looking at our program and systems. I will soon be adding a chart of airspace over Minnesota showing optimal launching areas with respect to air traffic control airspace.
Next MissionAugust 26th, 2004
Due to cloud and wind obstruction, we had to postpone our latest flight in North Dakota. Our new tenative date is the 25th of September. We will still be launching a balloon up to 100,000 feet with the Concordia payload attached. If you are interested in volunteering, please e-mail me at this address
For more information, check out the mission page for all the details.
Last MissionJuly 8th, 2004
Our last flight was a flight up to 30,000 followed by a manual cut-down after the altitude switch failed to activate. Check out the mission 3 page for pictures and the video. Be sure to look at the pictures taken by the payload camera!


MnSGC BalloonSat is the Minnesota Space Grant Consortium's high altitude balloon program. The program was started in January 2003 by Dr. William Garrard, the MnSGC Director. MnSGC BalloonSat was created to provide an accessible vehicle for student payloads to reach near space.
The system is intended to provide a quick turnaround for projects. This allows students to design, build, and fly their own payloads within a short period of time. Most student satellite projects never get launched and if they do, it's years after the students have graduated. The vehicle also needs to be affordable and after the initial investment of time and resources to develop the hardware, the cost of sending up payloads is only a few hundred dollars. The command module is reusable and student experiments typically contain data collection equipment, so it is important to successfully recover both.
These requirements have led to the decision to use high altitude weather balloons to lift payloads to altitudes of up to 20 miles. A parachute is attached just below the balloon followed by the payload and command module. The parachute is used to bring the command module and payload safely to the surface. The payload will contain the student experiment. The command module consists of a GPS receiver and a radio, which transmits the balloon's position as well as telemetry information. During this time, the GPS position is continuously transmitted to the ground. Predictions of the balloon flight path are made both before and during the flight. A recovery team can then wait at the predicted landing zone for the parachute to bring the command module and payload safely down to the ground.
Students are able to participate in all three levels of the program: science, engineering, and operations. They can design payloads, participate in the launch and recovery of the balloons, lead teams or missions, and even design new engineering aspects of the program.
Many thanks go out to HABET, Iowa State University's balloon project, for helping us get our feet off the ground. Dr. Bill Boyd and Mike Cook were especially helpful. They provided initial help with design ideas, documentation, and project organization.
Web site maintained by Adam Thoreen
Last updated: January 13th, 2005
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