NITR's Tryst with the Skies

The day, 16th of November will forever be etched in the history of NITR, as the day when it tested and launched its first ever Balloon-Satellite. This Balloon satellite is just a precursor to the Nano-Satellite and many more other Balloon-satellites.

TEAM MM brings to you the story behind this hallmark achievement by the students of NITR.

The Journey of the Balloon-Satellite started with a competition by Antariksha Labs, which started in February, with an objective of developing an efficient payload that can go up to 30km height with efficient tracking.  

Months of hard work culminated when the team got ready to launch the balloon satellite at 10am on Sunday morning in front of the Electrical and Electronics Building. The event was presided by our esteemed Director and many other professors of EC department. The launch was delayed, as it ran into some glitches because the balloon was not filled to the required capacity due to which it would not ascend to the required test height of one kilometre. The technical team also faced some problems with a knot, which played a crucial role in the opening of the parachute. After a couple of hours of struggle, NITR successfully launched and tested its first ever Balloon-Satellite. The project was guided over by Professor Samit Ari and A.K Sahoo. The baton of handling the project was passed down to Ranga Sumiran from Amiya Samantaray. 

The whole project was taken up step by step. The first step was the ground segment consisting of telemetry and tracking. Second was Radio Frequency (RF) communication, and the third, a sensor interface. The final one being 'on-board computing', was the base for the functioning of the entire system. There were also other segments that included the structural design of the balloon satellite and the power segment, which was the energy source for the payload. All the team members played a crucial through each and every step of designing and building the satellite.

Interfacing the satellite was a herculean task for the team. Even the RF module was completely new to the students. Configuring it, took a lot of time and effort. The team performed rigorous testing for the structural stability of the payload for sustaining up to a height of 30km. The final hurdle was dealing with the errors and bugs of the complex computer code which ran into thousands of lines.

The objective of this balloon satellite was to record various parameters like temperature, humidity and pressure. The ground team made use of a local host sever, that displayed all the data that was obtained in the form table and graphs. It also had a tracker map. A GoPro Camera which is capable of taking high resolution photos was used. The main microcontroller was obtained from Arduino Mega. The sensors that were used were of high quality with good inertial measurement unit (IMU) values. The GPS module used was from Skylabs. The best RF module around- Xtend 900 was used, having a range of 64km and good transmission. With all the components working in harmony and all the required data being collected by the payload as per the expectation, this launch can be hailed nothing less than bang-on success.

TEAM MM congratulates the Balloon-Satellite team for their successful launch and wishes them very best for their future endeavours.