White Star Balloon

Launch Procedure Manual

Publication: 3/4/2011


Section 1.0 – Scope

Section 2.0 – Staging

Section 3.0 – Pre-Launch

Section 3.1 – Spaceport Indiana

Section 3.1.1 – Equipment Expectations

Section 3.1.2 – Timeline

Section 3.1.3 – Launch Site Layout

Section 3.2 – Handoff

Section 3.3 – White Star Responsibilities

Section 4.0 – Launch

Section 5.0 – Post-Launch

Appendix A – Other Resources


Section 1.0 – Scope

This manual will define  high-level launch procedures.  For specific duties and responsibilities, please refer to the checklists and responsibility documentation provided.  Information Sources will be defined in Appendix A.

Section 2.0 – Staging

Staging will take place during the transport of the payload from Mission Control in Louisville, KY, to the launch site, in Columbus, IN.  This will take place in the transit vehicle, with the payload mounted securely.  Ballast container shall be empty.

Staging commands are executed with the payload attached to the ground support board, with ground support power.  All commands are passed to the ground support board using an FTDI cable serial connection.  These commands are the standard I2C commands, as documented.

During staging, epoch must be initialized and locked.  Epoch 0 (Zero) will be noted and documented.  All other flight variables must be confirmed.  These variables include, but are not limited to:

Document all variables.

At this point, satellite telemetry must be confirmed.  First verification is generated by listening to the telemetry transmitted using a standard VHF Handheld Radio.  Second verification is generated by contacting mission control and ensuring that telemetry is being transmitted.

Finally, HF telemetry must be confirmed.  First verification is generated by listening to telemetry transmitted with an HF Handheld Radio.

During the remainder of transit, the payload should remain powered with ground power.

Section 3.0 – Pre-Launch

The pre-launch stage of launch takes place concurrent and following the staging portion of launch.  This section will detail the portions of pre-launch which Spaceport Indiana personnel will complete, will describe the hand-off procedures once the White Star Team arrives, and describe the duties of the  White Star Team during pre-launch

Section 3.1 – Spaceport Indiana

Spaceport Indiana will prepare for the arrival of the White Star team in accordance to the instructions provided in this document.

Section 3.1.1 – Equipment Expectations

The White Star Team expects Spaceport Indiana to furnish the following material goods:

The White Star team will provide Spaceport with the following items, to be set up prior to launch

It is expected that all equipment shall be setup as specified in section 3.1.3 by the time the White Star team arrives at the launch site.

Section 3.1.2 – Timeline

The launch window will open 96 hours prior to launch.  Spaceport Indiana will be notified of this launch window opening 72 hours prior to launch.  Spaceport is expected to provide a launch pad office and sufficient staff to configure the launch equipment within this time span.

Spaceport will receive further notice 12 hours prior to launch of  impending launch status.

Three hours prior to launch, a representative of Spaceport Indiana will be expected to provide range weather conditions.  Further launch notification will be delivered at this time.

Site setup crew should arrive at the launch site 2 hours prior to launch.  Supplies shall be configured according to the diagram provided in section 3.1.3.  Electricity and Internet should be confirmed working at this time.

Following this, Spaceport will cede control of the launch site to the White Star team upon arrival.


Section 3.1.3 – Launch Site Layout


Section 3.2 – Handoff

Upon arrival of the White Star team, the responsibilities and duties of the launch pad office shall be passed off to the White Star Team.

Section 3.3 – White Star Responsibilities

Upon arrival to the launch site, the White Star Team will unload the payload and balloon envelopes.  Upon verification of telemetry reception by ground computers, the payload is to be switched to flight power.  At this time, mission control will be notified of the switch to flight power, and all telemetry uplinks will be reconfirmed.  After payload operation is confirmed following the switch to flight power, the fill team will begin the layout and filling of the balloon.  The top sensor will be inserted in the balloon envelope, rigging lines will be laid out, and the envelope will be filled according to specified documentation and training.  While the envelope is being filled and rigged, the ballast container will be filled with the flight ballast, and the final payload weight will be measured.

Immediately following fill of the flight envelope, the payload will be connected through quick-connect rings, and launched.  A runner shall ensure the payload is launched properly, as per specification.

Section 4.0 – Launch

Section 5.0 – Post-Launch

Following the launch of the payload, the White Star Team will remain at the launch site receiving telemetry from the HF data radio until reliable reception of the radio has been confirmed from other sites.  Following this, the White Star and Spaceport teams will disassemble the launch site, and the White Star Team will return to Louisville mission control.

Appendix A – Other Resources

The Wiki is the principal resource for policy: http://wiki.whitestarballoon.com

Further checklists, log sheet and pamphlets are provided for each position.