Review Article

The Louisiana Space Consortium Student Sounding Balloon Program

  • Michael Stewart (Louisiana State University)
  • Dana Browne (Louisiana State University)
  • S. Brad Ellison (Louisiana State University)
  • James Giammanco (Louisiana State University)
  • Douglas Granger (Louisiana State University)
  • T. Gregory Guzik (Louisiana State University)
  • John P. Wefel (Louisiana State University)


Since the fall of 2003 the Louisiana Aerospace Catalyst Experiences for Students (LaACES) program has been providing university students a two semester project that culminates with the flight of a scientific balloon experiment. During the first semester students complete the Student Ballooning Course (SBC) which teaches basic skills necessary to develop a working scientific payload. The SBC consists of a series of lectures and activities providing instruction in electronics, programming, project management, balloon payload design, and introductory circuit assembly. The SBC introduces the BalloonSat, a sub-assembly designed at LSU for LaACES which contains a microcontroller, real-time clock and a four channel analog-to-digital converter. The second semester is spent on the design, development, testing and calibration of the payloads. Upon completion of the Flight Readiness Review, students travel to the NASA Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF) in Palestine, Texas for integration, launch, recovery and science presentations. A flight capable Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) radio beacon armed with GPS and command capable cut down was developed to track the balloon during flight and to cut-down the payloads. Tracking vehicles are outfitted with radios tuned to APRS frequency and laptops displaying maps of the payload location. Here we describe LaACES; program development, tools and technologies, implementation, program, management issues and flight experiences.


How to Cite:

Stewart, M. & Browne, D. & Ellison, S. & Giammanco, J. & Granger, D. & Guzik, T. & Wefel, J. P., (2021) “The Louisiana Space Consortium Student Sounding Balloon Program”, Journal of High Altitude Ballooning 1(1). doi:



Published on
09 Aug 2021
Peer Reviewed