The STARS Project - Space Telemetry And Remote Sensing
The STARS (short for Space Telemetry and Remote Sensing) Project is an educational and promotional project of Adeptium Consulting Ltd. It is a series of near-space remote sensing missions showing how indivuduals can explore space and perform real science, without the budget of a global super-power or a multinational aerospace company.
The current evolution, our first mission, is STARS-1. We are hoping to launch in 2013, subject to weather, staff availability (paying clients always come first!), and launch consent and scheduling at our preferred site.
The mission objective is to launch an instrument package to over 100,000ft.(30km), record sensor measurements and images throughout the flight, track the package through its descent phase to landing, and retrieve the data. We are evaluating how well the sensors work in near-space conditions, and how well our downlinks work.
The launch mechanism is a meteorological balloon, from which a parachute and the instrument package are suspended. Once the balloon ruptures at peak altitude, the parachute should deploy, and the package should enter a controlled descent to Earth. Throughout its flight, multiple onboard GPS systems report the location and (where possible) altitude to Mission Control through downlinks (with redundancy to cope with both potential systems failures and legal limitations on in-flight transmissions). The retrieve crews follow the ground track of the package until its landing.
Conditions at peak altitude are harsh. Temperatures below -40 degrees C and an atmospheric pressure around 1% of that at sea level require a lot of careful thought, if instruments are to survive, much less record their results. Radiation is another factor, too. At 30km above the Earth's surface, there is much less protection against everything from ultraviolet light, through X rays, to more seriously ionizing radiations. It will be interesting to discover how much this affects the on-board equipment - which can't be hardened very much against radiation without over-running our maximum payload weight.
This site records our progress, thoughts and ideas as the mission develops.