High Altitude Balloon Payload Design Program (Summer 2012)

Program Overview

In this project, 6 female engineering students will work as part of an interdisciplinary project team to design a high altitude balloon payload. The payload will collect environmental information during the flight to allow subsequent science experiments to be carried safely. The payload will be designed to adhere to the interface guidelines from the High Altitude Student Platform (HASP) balloon launch program that is jointly administered by the NASA Wallops Balloon Program Office and Louisiana State University for a future flight. At the end of the summer program, the payload will be test flown on a MSGC BOREALIS balloon platform to an altitude of 100,000 feet.

The overall goals of this program are to engage underrepresented groups in STEM and expose undergraduate engineering students to an interdisciplinary design project which is accomplished using the principles of systems engineering. 

The Design Team

Left to Right:

Jen Hoff, Senior in Electrical Engineering
Kate Ferris, Junior in Electrical Engineering
Kaysha Young, Senior in Mechanical Engineering & Mechanical Engineering Technology
Emily Bishop, Senior in Mechanical Engineering
Alison Figueira, Junior in Computer Science
Makenzie Guyer, Sophomore in Computer Science


Left to Right:

Brock LaMeres, Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering
Hunter Lloyd, Faculty, Computer Science
Robb Larson, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering Technology
Angela Des Jardins, Director of the Montana Space Grant Consortium


Engineering Design Process

1. Mission Architecture

Mission Objective:

To collect measurements at high altitudes of atmospheric temperature and pressure, the internal temperature and dynamic movement of a payload that meets HASP flight requirements.




8 Weeks, (6/4/12 - 7/27/12)

Design Team

Jen Hoff & Kate Ferris : (Electrical System)
Kaysha Young & Emily Bishop : (Mechanical System)
Allison Figueira & Makenzie Guyer : (Computer System)

2. Mission Requirements

Functional Requirements:

  • Log/Store data from the sensors on a non-viotile storage device.
  • Power Sensors and any electronics needed to run these sensors.
  • Protect the system from environmental conditions.
  • Protected from the impact upon landing/jerk from the balloon pop.
  • Provide state of health information of the system.

Performance Requirements:

  • Consume 7 watts in order to accurately represent the research team's thermal output.
  • Log data from the temperature/pressure sensors at a rate of 1 measurement per second.
  • Log data from the accelerometers at a rate of 3 measurements per second.
  • Provide insulation to keep the internal temperature between -40 C and 60 C.
  • Provide at least 4 hours of power for the duration of the setup, flight, and recovery time.
  • Withstand an vertical force of10 g and a horizontal force of 5g.
  • Withstand vibrations up to ____- Hz.

Physical Requirements:

  • Must weight 1.62 kg.
  • Maximum Total Volume: 15 cm x 15 cm x 30 cm.
  • Mechanically interface with the HASP payload plate in addition to the BOREALIS system.

Reliability Requirements:

  • Must be able to survive preliminary tests and two launches.

3. System Requirements

4. Preliminary Design

5. Critical Design

6. Assembly & Test

7. Product Launch

Design Documents

Internal Documents

External References

Systems Engineering Resources


Role Model Series


Each week we will expose our design team to women working in STEM and/or in leadership roles in the STEM community.


Dr. Angela Des Jardins

Director, MT Space Grant Consortium 

Tuesday, 6/8/12 (ECE Conf Rm) 

Dr. Cady Coleman

NASA Astronaut 

Monday, 6/11/12 (Northern Hotel, Helena)

Dr. Erin Cech

Stanford Institute for Gender Research 

Tuesday, 6/19/12 (EPS 258) 


Dr. Joey Key

Education Specialist, MT Space Grant Consortium 

Wednesday, 6/27/12 (ECE Conf Rm)

Dr. Sarah Codd

Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, MSU

Monday, 7/9/12 (ECE Conf Rm)

Jen Brown

Assistant Professor, Chemical & Biological Engineering, MSU

Wednesday, 7/11/12 (ECE Conf Rm)

Heidi M. Sherick 

Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Diversity, COE

Thursday, 7/12/12 (ECE Conf Rm)

Dr. Martha Potvin 

Provost & Vice President of Academic Affairs, MSU

Tuesday, 7/17/12 (ECE Conf Rm)