JP Aerospace PongSat

by kj6epl, published

JP Aerospace PongSat by kj6epl Dec 12, 2012

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JP Aerospace PongSat by kj6epl is licensed under the GNU - GPL license.

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If you've ever wanted to fly an experiment to the edge of space, this is your chance! PongSat by JP Aerospace is the World's Space Program! A Pongsat is an experiment stuffed inside a ping pong ball, and we fly them for FREE! Sky's (no-- SPACE) is the limit! What will you fly?

Update: By the way, this is an on-going program, not a one time event. We do routine PongSat flights every few months. The PongSat program itself is several years old, and will likely continue for as long as JP Aerospace is in business. So even though this "thing" was posted a couple years ago, it is still very much alive and well. Make yours today!


  1. Read the getting started pdf: http://www.jpaerospace.com/pongsat/PongSGuide-n.PDF

  2. Create your experiment per the guidelines in the pdf.

  3. Cut open a ping pong ball and stuff your experiment inside (or 3D print one using the supplied model for extra geek appeal).

  4. Fill out the form on the back page of the pdf from #1.

  5. Mail us your PongSat with the form from #4, and we'll fly your experiment on our next flight! Our balloon flights routinely reach an altitude of 90,000 to 100,000 feet!

Note: although the PongSat program is focused toward education, anyone anywhere may participate, student or not. The purpose of the program is learning by doing: an opportunity to get hands on with space easily.

Also, the model is provided for you to customize for your experiment, such as adding circuit board, switch, and sensor mounts. The only modification not allowed is making the diameter larger than 40mm, at least not without special permission.


JP Aerospace home page: http://jpaerospace.com/

JP Aerospace blog: http://jpaerospace.com/blog/

JP Aerospace on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jpaerospace

PongSat home page: http://www.jpaerospace.com/pongsat/index.htm

PongSat on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/PongSat/250288635034145

PongSat on Space.com: http://www.space.com/17589-pongsat-ping-pong-balls-space-balloon.html

PongSat on Wired: http://www.wired.com/design/2012/07/pongsats/

PongSat on NBC: http://dailynightly.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/11/15848691-learn-more-about-jp-aerospace?lite

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I take it the "probe" doesn't get high enough for re entry speed and temp to be an issue? My school has a kind of requirement that all students undertake a larger project the year we graduate I'm thinking that making one of these might be mine. (Only have to come up with a good experiment.) Am I right in assuming that If I for example put a sensor that recorded data onto an SD card the card would be returned to me?

No the vehicle does not get high enough for a pyrotechnic reentry, but it does go into supersonic free fall when the balloon bursts. Typically these flights get up to 80,000-100,000 feet, which is in the stratosphere, and at that altitude the environment is virtually identical to space unless you are moving at hypersonic speeds, i.e. the air is so thin that convective heat transfer doesn't work, cosmic radiation is present, and the sunlight is much stronger than on the ground. If you make an electronic experiment, it will be switched on before takeoff and shipped back to you. Make sure you put a clearly labeled on/off switch on the outside of the pongsat, and keep in mind that the recovery teams likely won't switch it back off again when they recover the vehicle, so design it to turn on and be left on until the battery dies. If you need experiment ideas, read the pongsat guide pdf and read the pongsat page on JPA's website (links are in "thing details"). You could also google pongsat, as some participants have posted about their experiments on various blogs.

I'm thinking of making some sort of radio spectrum monitor to see what kind of signals you could find up there would that be a problem for the vehicle it would only be a receiver. Also do you think it would work or is there to many signals going from the vehicle itself that it would drown out everything else. By the way I'm European so the Imperial system is little more than gibberish to me If it's not to much trouble metric would probably make conversation easier.

A receiver is perfectly fine. The two main transmitters on board are 144 MHz and (if equipped) 900 MHz. Transmissions occur once every 15 seconds and last for about a second, so there will be a few seconds of silence on board in between vehicle transmissions.

Wouldn't a truncated octohedron / tetra kaidecahedron allow similar volume to surface area ratio but much better packing ratio if you have a cluster of them inside a box/ container?

It would be more spatially efficient, but you can buy a ping-pong ball just about anywhere. The vast majority of pong sat participants don't have access to a 3D printer. You can't buy a properly sized octohedron at your local retail store.

Are the satellites kept on the balloon or dropped?

Aug 8, 2014 - Modified Aug 8, 2014
kj6epl - in reply to zpj

They fly via balloon to 80,000-100,000 feet where the balloon bursts and they drop. This blog post contains a photo showing a 3D flight path in Google Earth from a recent mission: http://jpaerospace.com/blog/?p=5864 A flight is typically 2 hrs climbing and about 30 min descent. We have been flying pongsat missions every few months, so make yours and send it our way!

chaffeem: Our next scheduled flight will be in April. However, that is tentative, and things like weather, funds, and pop-up sponsors wanting a flight tomorrow could change that.

FowThingies: there actually have been some pokeball colored pongsats.

When is the next flight going to be?  I can't find it on the website you provided.

Pokemon - Gotta Catch 'm all!

Nice project ;)

Very cool. Keep up the great work. This will help define the path for many kids I'm sure.

Hey Drew,
Don't forget the quick shout out to your sister program!