Balloonerang Bounces Back

As the race for autonomous parafoil recovery system fares on, Stanford student engineers are busy stirring up competition.

On the cold, windy morning of May 18, 2018, Stanford Student Space Initiative's (SSI) newly coined Balloonerang Team successfully launched its parafoil system for SSI-69, surpassing expectations not only once, but twice!

Balloonerang zooms in on its circuit. The new payload design features 3D printed funnels through which the parafoil support strings thread.

The goal of this launch was to fly our payload via a high-altitude latex balloon to low altitudes in range of vision and control direction of flight with servo controllers upon cutdown. Cutdown occurred at 328ft for the first test, and 426ft for the second test; and despite the box's graceful but inconvenient landing in a local river, the team was able to recover the fully functional payload for analysis.

SSI returns to launch site after recovery.

This new structure incorporates secure and optimized features, including 3D-printed funnels and a sturdy Duron shell. The circuit, code, and the deployment mechanisms worked as needed, but still remain a work in progress. Brian Tanabe (left) and Jason Kurohara (right) prepare the parafoil for flight.

To prepare for the flight, the team worked long hours late nights planning, debugging, and falling asleep to the whir of 3D printers.

For our next flight, the Balloonerang team will focus on gear motor functionality, revamp both mechanical and electrical design, and more precisely follow the scripted flight. Future goals include installing a live update panel and designing a way to support heavier loads.
Our final payload design!
Balloonerang team hopes to continue uncovering new insights about parafoil recovery systems, and work toward its eventual goal of automated flight. With a guided recovery system, our high-altitude balloons team will be able to save significant costs and time in retrieving the payload. Along the way, we'll be gathering invaluable data about material properties and sharing what we learn with the public. The possibilities are endless!
SSI team celebrates a successful flight. Pictured from left to right: Davy Ragland, Brian Tanabe, Danna Xue, Grace Hu, Jason Kurohara.

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SSIdeas High Altitude Balloons Competition

Hey everyone!

Do you have an idea you'd like to fly up to space? Wanna win a $50 Gift Card to Coupa if your idea is chosen? Whether it be launching your lab's amazing research or a banana with googly eyes for the memes, each individual or teams of up to 4 can submit their crazy ideas of what you guys want flown on our famous high-altitude balloons!🎈

SSIdeas is a campus wide competition sponsored by the Stanford Student Space Initiative (SSI), where you get to propose an idea or fun object to launch to space using high-altitude balloons. What are high-altitude balloons, you say? Well, they’re huge 10-feet wide latex balloons that can fly scientific payloads to near space, collecting data and reaching heights of ~80,000 feet / 25 km at extremely low costs of <$1,000 total. We are looking for ideas of the coolest payloads to be flown on a high altitude balloon, and we’d love your help either pitching ideas or helping with payload construction!

This challenge is open to all Stanford students (grad & undergrad), in order to spread our love of flying high-altitude balloons. For those who are unfamiliar with SSI, we are a completely student-run organization whose ultimate goal is to open the stage for future space enterprise leaders. Internally, we are categorized into 6 subteams, one of which is dedicated to constructing High Altitude Balloon payloads. Our Valve-Ballast (ValBal) System, one of the Balloons Team’s main projects, is an autonomous payload that broke the world record for longest latex balloon flight in history after staying aloft for 121 hours (that’s more than 5 days!).

Our team is all about innovation, and we know that Stanford students are the best in the world at this. So whether or not you’re a STEM major, space enthusiast, humanities rockstar, or you’ve barely even thought about going to space but have great ideas, fill out our quick application to see your ideas



Categories (3 Winners, Best in Each):
A)Life Sciences (Bio/Environmental), B) Techie (ME/EE/CS), C) Creativity

Submit your idea by 11:59pm, May 1st on our application: