StratEx Mission Overview
Padilla, Sebastian A.
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The StratEx (Stratospheric Explorer) project’s primary goal was to create a system that allowed an individual to travel to, explore, and return from the stratosphere analogous to how a SCUBA suit allows one to explore the ocean depths. It was a rare opportunity for a team to take a system of this scope from high level concept to world record breaking fruition in a span of 34 months. This paper is an overview of the project from beginning to end with a focus that includes requirements definition and implementation throughout the life of the program, major subsystems, the development program, the testing program, and the operations program. The major systems include the Pressure Suit Assembly (PSA) consisting of the Pressure Suit, the Equipment Module pack with all ECLSS, Thermal and Avionics equipment necessary to complete the mission, and the recovery system that safely brings the pilot back from the stratosphere; the Launch System that includes the Balloon Equipment Module for control of the balloon flight vehicle, the ground hardware and system to launch the flight vehicle; as well as the Mission Control system that coordinates all aspects of the operation pre-launch through to recovery, and the Chase / Recovery system that must promptly get to and safely recover the pilot upon landing. Additionally a focus will be on the interplay between development, testing, and operations that allowed for the rapid product life cycle needed to implement the ever-evolving design through the completion of the StratEx program.