RMC Looks Up…Way Up…

“FLOAT 3” Continues RMC’s Race for Space

By Dr. Ron Vincent, Director, Centre for Space Research

RMCC Space Science students recently conducted a high altitude balloon mission to test an Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) receiver payload, which is intended to eventually fly in space. ADS-B is a system in which aircraft continually transmit their identity and GPS-derived navigational information. A potential solution for the precise tracking of aircraft over oceanic regions and the high Arctic is through the monitoring of ADS-B signals using satellites. The Space ADS-B Receiver Experiment (SABRE) is a nanosatellite (10 × 10 × 30 cm, 3 kg) designed by RMCC students as part of the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge. The SABRE objective is to demonstrate the feasibility of a space-based ADS-B system. The programme has moved through the critical design phase and most of the components for the satellite have been purchased.

The high altitude balloon experiment was launched from Wingham, Ontario on 21 March 2012. Flight time for the mission was 2 hours and 19 minutes, with the balloon reaching a maximum altitude of 95,500 feet and landing approximately 30 kilometers south of the launch site. Over 51,000 ADS-B messages were received by the payload during the flight, representing 138 unique aircraft. This experiment, the Flying Laboratory for the Observation of ADS-B Transmissions (FLOAT), is the third in a series of tests for the SABRE payload. FLOAT 4 and 5 will be launched in the summer of 2012 to assess and compare antenna configurations for the ADS-B receiver.

More photos from the launch:

L-R: 25482 OCdt (IV) Michael Baskey, 25449 OCdt (IV) Malcolm Grieve, Mr. Alex Cushley, Dr. Ron Vincent (Professor), Mr. Michael Earl,

25244 OCdt (IV) Daniel Stolzman and Major Richard Van Der Pryt