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Help Students Launch Payloads for NASA

Help Students Launch Payloads for NASA Image
Raised toward our $5,000 Goal
92 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on July 19, at 11:59 PM MST
Project Owners

Post Launch Update

October 07, 2019

Hello everyone! Although it's been awhile since our last update, we've received enough emails requesting photos and news that we decided to post one final update here.


First, you'll all be very happy to know that because you helped us meet our fundraising goal, everyone who wanted to attend the launch and integration of our payloads was able to go! This was a truly amazing opportunity, and we thank you so much for helping us experience it. We could not have done this without you!


Next, we have a photo album containing pictures taken during integration and launch by various team members and HASP personnel. Kyle Massingill, a graduate student of Dr. Groppi who became a leading member of team AWSOME, has graciously put this album together. We hope you enjoy it!


Finally, last but not least, both payloads were able to successfully launch and then be recovered afterward by Michael Oals. Currently, payload data is being analyzed by remaining members on both teams so that a final flight report can be submitted to HASP. The amount of data available to discuss depends on the payload, so if you would like more information, please contact the following people:

Paras Angell at for Team SMOLDER updates

Kyle Massingill at for Team AWSOME updates


We hope you've enjoyed this journey with us, and we thank you one final time for all the support you offered to help us achieve our dreams!

Week 6 Updates - Last week!

July 18, 2019

Hello everyone! We are now in our final week with just a one day left on the fundraising campaign. We are all so happy that you decied to follow us on our journey, and even support us financially along the way. None of this would have been possible without you, the donors, so let us say just one last time: thank you so, so very much for all your help in making our dreams come true. If after tomorrow anyone would like pictures from the integration and launch of our payload, or even just continued updates, please email us at and We would love to have you join us virtually during the actual launch of our payload too, and we'll be looking into options for that as well. For now, enjoy the last update is below and we bid you a very fond farewell! 


Although this week has been dedicated to the integration of Team AWSOME's and SMOLDER's payloads, we were still able to grab a few snapshots of said payloads before they were loaded up for travel. The first photo below shows Team SMOLDER's Project Manager, Tim McMillen, finalizing his team's payload. The next two photos show Team AWSOME's payload right before the exterior frame walls were screwed togeher. After both payloads were finalized they were loaded up and driven to Texas, which is where they currently wait for integration. Here's wishing the best of luck to both teams as they undergo NASA's extensive testing!


Week 5 Updates

July 11, 2019

Hello once again everyone! As of today we currently have $3400 in the travel pot. Even better, we were able to get a second extension so that now we have just a little bit longer to get the final $1600. We are so close to completing our goal, and we could not have done it without all of you! Coming up soon we have endorsements ranging from NewSpace at ASU all the way to Sweden where the rock band of a mutual friend has decided to support us. We are all so grateful for your continued support, and we look forward to sharing pictures from next week's trip to integration! Both teams decided to put the money we raise towards going to launch, but we still were able to get enough to send a few folks from each team to Texas. Stay tuned as we follow them on their journey and into our last week of fundraising!


As for this week's updates, Team AWSOME focused on finishing their payload for integration. The first picture below shows Bianca Pina, Systems Engineer and Team Lead, testing the final circuits for said integration. Dr. Sean Bryan and Dr. Christopher Groppi, the team's mentors, also worked together to build the final radiometer as shown in the second picture. Various aspects of the calibration mirror, radiometer mount, amplifiers, and more were also adjusted so that everything could line up and fit together. In this way, the instruments could be both better secured and get more accurate data readings.  


Week 4 Updates

July 02, 2019

Hello once again everyone and thank you so much for your continued support! Today we bring you the fantastic news that the fundraiser has just about hit $3000 thanks to some very generous donors. A few of these came directly from ASU's SESE faculty leadership too, which just goes to show how supportive this school is. We're so glad to be a part of this, and want to again thank you all for your wonderful donations!


Another bout of good news comes from our campaign being extended until July 12th! If you had folks who may have been able to help but couldn't due to the deadline, we encourage you to reach out again to see if this extension changes their mind. Finally, before we get into the updates for this week thus far, we may be doing one update a week instead of two from here on out. After all, we wouldn't want to repay our donors by bombarding their emails, social media pages, and so on!


This week, computer engineers, Peter Wullen and Michael Oals, from Team AWSOME and SMOLDER respectively, worked together to debug the final flight code to be used by both payloads (see 1st photo). As always when it comes to programming, bugs will always be right around the corner to cause headaches for their engineers. We're all confident though that these issues will be solved very soon


Team AWSOME also got around to preparing their payload frame for its first coat of white paint, a step that is absolutely necessary to negate the heat of the upper atmosphere. This is shown below in the 2nd photo as David Halperin (the mechanical lead and engineer for the team) cleans the payload with various chemicals (safety first!).


Last, but most certainly not least, Philip Ryback, Team AWSOME's amplifer and radiometer engineer/lead, worked to continue testing of the team's instruments (see photo 3). With him to help was Dr. Sean Bryan, the scientist who created the team's radiometer and was thus needed for this week's round of testing. If you get a chance to see this, thank you Dr. Bryan for your continued assistance! 


That's all for now folks. Have a wonderful and safe 4th of July!

Week 3 Updates Part 2

June 28, 2019

Hello everyone! To those who have recently donated and are new to these updates, thank you so much and welcome to the group! Your contribution is incredibly appreciated and we look forward to sharing our journey with you over the last week of our PitchFunder. Interested in hearing about our progress and success after this campaign ends? Have general questions about the projects? Feel free to email for a full set of updates! We're sure to have even more pictures available for you, especially if we're able to travel to Texas and New Mexico.


Today's update will be a little bit different, as we don't have any pictures to share. Both payloads are nearly finished, and the tests currently underway make it a little difficult to get any action shots. Instead, this post will be about the TV interview previously mentioned. Team AWSOME's Project Manager and Science lead, Alexa Drew, met with a local channel a few weeks ago and was filmed explaining her team's project, the implications of it, and what others could do to help. This was an amazing opportunity, and surely one that would bring in funds from excited donors.


Unfortunately, the team received news recently that the interview was taken down for being cited as "propaganda." The implication made was that this was due to the mention of climate change, which has been made highly political in recent years. Nonetheless, this is the basis for both team's projects, and so there was much disappointment to be shared. Science for the betterment of the world should not be political after all, and the people trying to achieve such feats (especially students) should not be punished.


Therefore, if you know anyone, anyone at all who might be able to help, please reach out to them with this link. As of today we only have one week left to gather the necessary funds. If we all work together though we can achieve our fundraising goals and show those that would hamper scientific advancement that we can still succeed. Thank you so much once again to everyone who has helped so far; you're helping these students have their dreams come true!

Week 3 Updates Part 1

June 25, 2019

Hello once again and thank you all for your donations! There aren't too many updates for the first half of this week, though mostly because both teams are almost done! By the time this fundraiser ends then, both teams should be completely done or very close to completing their payloads. We're excited to continue sharing our journey with you and hope you will enjoy this week's updates!


Team SMOLDER is just finishing up on the final touches of their payload before they integrate with HASP in a few weeks. Once again this has primarily focused on testing the payload as a whole, and the results look very promising! They should have no trouble integrating next month when they travel to Texas.


Team AWSOME meanwhile has been working to get their payload at the same readiness level. Only one subsystem remains to be fully constructed and tested and that is the calibration system. Composed of several different parts, this complex bit of machinery is needed to calibrate the team's radiometer so that its data is less polluted by surrounding "noise."  Katherine Morin, the calibration lead, is shown below working to secure the device to a mounting platform. All aspects of this system were designed by her, but were machined by ASU itself (similar to the team's frame). Due to this, various parts required little touchups before being constructed. We're all very confident, however, that it will be working in time for integration in Texas!

Week 2 Updates Part 2

June 21, 2019

Hello once again everyone! Both teams as always thank you for your donations, whether they have already been given, you're planning to do so soon, or if you want to give a second time. You've all done so much for us, but if you'd like to do more, feel free to invite friends, family, or any interested group to check out our project. We also do sponsorships for those who think a certain company may be interested. We know we have exactly two weeks left, but we can do it with your help. Coming up soon we even have a story airing on a local news channel, so stay tuned for those details too!


For the 2nd update of this week, Team AWSOME's system engineer and team lead, Bianca Pina, soldered a custom made circuit board so that the team's sensors could interface with the computer (see first picture below). This board was one she designed by herself using EAGLE and then built afterward. Other updates from the team include computer engineer, Peter Wullen, solving the pesky programming issues that were brought up in the previous update. The flight code is now almost finished and ready to go! Philip Rybak also continued to test the amplifier he designed (see the first update for pictures!). At this point, Team AWSOME is almost done building and testing their payload!


Team SMOLDER has also continued to make progress in testing their payload, as much of it had already been built over the semester. Much of their work then has been running flight simulations on their payload as a whole, and most recently they ran a 24-hour long one to ensure their payload could withstand the varying altitudinal pressures experienced on the HASP gondola. The photo below shows Michael Oals (right), the team's computer programmer, removing the team's payload after having monitored the pressure levels of the thermal vacuum chamber during the simulation. An ELVIS board was used to assist with this. Project Manager, Tim McMillen (left), stands close by to assist with the removal of the payload after the completion of the simulation. That's all for now folks. We can't wait to share our next update with you all!



Week 2 Updates Part 1

June 18, 2019

We're moving into week 3 and we've almost hit $2000! Thank you so much to everyone who has donated. We probably sound like a broken record at this point, but each and every one of your generous gifts brings a smile to these student's faces. So again, thank you!


For part 1 of week 2's updates, Team AWSOME's computer engineer, Peter Wullen, spent considerable time working on the serial communicates code. The photo below shows him hard at working doing this. The code he is working on will enable the team to communicate with HASP while in flight, and will likely be tested during the integration in July. Some minor issues have appeared, which is quite common when dealing with computer code as those with programming experience will know. Bianca Pina, the systems engineer and team lead, reached out to other HASP teams around the world, and a collaborative solution is actively being worked towards.


As always stay tuned everyone! The next update will feature more details on Team AWSOME's progress, but also on Team SMOLDER's works too! Thus far most of their work has involving testing various aspects of their payload with the thermal vaccum chamber, and we're actively planning to have pictures of them doing so for this Friday's update.

Week 1 Updates Part 2

June 14, 2019

Hello again everyone! Once again thank you so much to those who have donated over the past few days. We're getting even closer to that big goal of $5000! As promised, here is the second part to our biweekly series of updates so that everyone can follow us as we build and test our payloads.


Team AWSOME picked up the pieces of their frame from the machine shop and assembled them together. The first picture below shows David, the structural lead for the team and designer of the frame, performing this task while Dr. Chris Groppi watches. Next week the team will be drilling holes into the frame to secure their many, many instruments using nuts and screws.  


Progress was also made on team AWSOME regarding their science ventures. Project manager and science lead, Alexa, was able to plot all the data given by some of NOAA's radiosonde launches so that the team would have a frame of reference for their own launch data. The graphs below show this as altitude versus atmospheric temperature and altitude versus relative humidity. The next steps will involve April, who has been assisting on various subsystems, plotting this same data using Python rather than Excel.


Week 1 Updates Part 1

June 11, 2019

Hello everyone, and thank you so much for all of your donations! We are all simply blown away at the level of support our teams have received from the community. Big or small, every donation helps move us closer to that dream of watching our payloads launch. As a sign of appreciation, and as the beginning of a new trend for this PitchFunder, we'll be bringing you biweekly updates on our progress as we build our payloads. Without further delay then, enjoy! 


Last week, Team AWSOME successfully tested the audio amplifier built by Philip, the amplifier and radiometer lead. Below are pictures of this amplifier, along with it being tested with one of the team's mentors, Dr. Sean Bryan. The actual radiometer, must be handled carefully, so a prototype version was used for testing as shown below in the very last picture. All of the instruments must be calibrated, so the same photo features a calibration wheel on the left.  

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A donation of this amount provides vehicle transportation for both teams to Fort Sumner, New Mexico so that they can launch their payloads.

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