The goal of Project Redirect is to design, fly, launch and recover a HAB (High Altitude Balloon) that is capable of autonomously returning to it’s launch site. This will reduce the chance of payload loss allowing more expensive payloads to be flown.
The below section provides a description of how a Project Redirect flight could look, once the project is complete. As all of these systems are still in development, it is very likely that the final version will look different then the current concept.
0-30 km (0-19 mi)
The Project Redirect payload is launched. Carried by a large helium filled balloon the payload begins to ascend. Throughout the flight the payloads instruments are recording and storing data. Every few seconds the payload transmittes telemetry to the ground. This telemetry provides GPS, altitude, sensor readings, and system status.
30-5 km (19-3 mi)
Up until this point the flight profile has closely resembled the stranded HAB flight. Periodically the payload will check it’s current altitude using redundant altitude sensors. Once these sensors read the present altitude, a small cluster of redundant pyrotechnic devices will be triggered, and cut through the cable connecting the payload to the balloon. Cutting away from the balloon before it bursts avoids the risk of debris from the balloon tangling with the payload and keeps the payload clear from the turbulence caused by the bursting of the balloon. As the payload begins to descend, air fills and inflates a small drogue parachute. This chute prevents the payload from accelerating to extremely high speeds until it reaches the guidance altitude.
5-2 km (3-1 mi)
At this altitude the guidance phase begins. The drogue chute is cut away, and the guidance system activates and begins to guide the payload to the landing site.
2-0 km (1-0 mi)
The payload is now nearing the landing site and the pilot parachute deploys followed shortly after by the main parachute. The payload quickly decelerates to a safe landing speed and a few minutes later, lands.
While we hope that the flight will go flawlessly we will have several systems in place to ensure a safe flight if things do not go as planed. Throughout the flight the payload’s telemetry will be monitored. If at any time the flight needs to be aborted the payload can immediately cut away from the balloon and then ether continue with a guided return or deploy the main chute and land.
The Project Redirect payload will house several systems, including flight computers, sensors, communications, parachutes and cameras. These systems combined will collect a variety of data about the flight. The payload will likely resemble the GTP (Guidance Test Payload), a model of which can be seen below.