Pioneer A-1

Overall dimensions

Balloon Type: Kaymont 800 g

Total Payload + rigging: 1.0 kg

Recovery Parachute: 48″


  • Tetrahedron shape; 3 sides + base pyramid.
  • Frame components: PVC panels and 3D printed PLA connectors
  • Two internal compartments (top, bottom)
  • Mid-level ‘porch’ to support color swatches, sundial, and in-shadow angle hash marks
  • Insulation composed of 1.5 inch thick high density styrofoam insulation panels
  • Inner covering of bottom section in aluminumized mylar (ie ‘space blanket’ material)
  • Bottom and landing struts covered in retro-reflective strips as a high visibility recovery aid
  • Top/bottom mounted 2.8W LED beacon indicators
  • Top mounted audio beacon
  • Resistive Heating Unit (RHU): 1W carbon resistor; active based on temperatures
  • Flight A-1 will not have the 3x external solar panels to operate the RHU or beacons
  • Flight A-1 parachute will be fixed / pre-deployed, without ‘reefing’ capability


  • GPS
  • Temperature (internal, external)
  • IMU / Altimeter (3 axis accelerometer, 3 axis gyro, 3 axis magnetometer)


  • Audio Tone transmission via FRS
  • Low rate (2400 bps) 315 MHz transmitter
  • High rate (~2 Mbps) 2.4 GHz transceiver (not present on Flight A-1)


  • Strut mounted imager, targeting the gondola, parachute, and balloon; internal record only.
  • Side looking high resolution imager, targeting the porch/horizon; record and interval-frame selected transmit.
  • Down looking Infragram imager; targeting the area below the gondola; record and interval-frame selected transmit.


  • First payload: A suspended, transparent enclosure of similar volume to the main gondola, containing a small, black thermal mass to investigate solar heating of future flights by comparing temperatures to the insulated primary enclosure bay.

Pioneer A-2

Alternate Flight Plan Test

Balloon Type: Kaymont 800 g


Testing the ability to perform an ascent to a stable, below-burst altitude, and then after a pre-determined time releasing a small ballast mass to cause final ascent and burst. This would allow for experiments to be operated for a short time at altitude.


Due to the possibility of a non-burst at either the coast or final altitudes, this flight would also contain a timed cut-down to release the balloon if a second plateau is attained without burst.