The High Altitude Student Platform (HASP) as a model multi-payload balloon platform

T. Gregory Guzik, Louisiana State University


One of the primary advantages of balloon flights is that payloads can be exposed to a near-space environment for an extended period of time, recovered, revised and then flown again. Thus, instrument and satellite component designs can be tested and refined without the need for orbital launches. This not only reduces development costs but can also reduce the time necessary to increase the technology readiness level (TRL) of a particular component. Over the last several years, interest in developing miniaturized satellites, with low mass, power and telemetry requirements, has significantly increased. An inexpensive method for testing and validation of 'nanosats' components, or full systems, would be to fly them on a balloon platform at 120,000 feet. These systems could be clustered onto a single balloon payload carrier that provides standardized power, telemetry and a physical interface for each experiment. Such an approach reduces the payload development overburden, so the investigator can focus exclusively on experiment, or subsystem, development and, consequently, can reduce experiment cost and improve turn-around time. Here we report on our experience with the High Altitude Student Platform (HASP), the first balloon carrier specifically designed with a standard interface to support up to 12 independent experiments per flight. Since 2006, HASP has flown nine times from Ft. Sumner, New Mexico and carried close to eighty (77) experiments to an altitude of ∼120,000 feet for an average duration of 14 hours at float. We will discuss the HASP system design, development and capabilities, the kinds of experiments that have flown on HASP, and the lessons-learned that are applicable to future multiple payload balloon platforms