PongSat Flight Program to fly a million student projects to edge of space

An announcement from JP Aerospace:

PongSat Flight Program Aims to Fly
1 Million Student Experiments to the Edge of Space

Rancho Cordova, CA August 4, 2020 – An organization in California is planning to fly a million ping pong balls to the edge of space. Over 18,000 have already flown.

A view of the PongSat flight on October 6th, 2019. Credits: PongSat Flight Program

All the world’s space programs combined have not flown as many student experiments as a little-known California aerospace company, JP Aerospace. Now, after 18 years, the program called the PongSat Flight Program has become its own nonprofit, setting its sights on flying a million student projects to the edge of space, all inside ping pong balls.

What is a PongSat?

A PongSat is an experiment that fits inside of a ping pong ball. These ping pong ball “satellites” are carried to the edge of space by high altitude balloon. There the PongSats experience the space environment: cosmic rays, vacuum, extreme cold and even zero gravity on the descent.

The PongSats stay with the balloon platform. After landing, they are returned to the students. Students get excited about science and engineering by actually doing it.

“We have 7th graders with more mission experience than adult researchers in the field,”

says John Powell, President of the PongSat Flight Program.

PongSat is a completely free program, open to anyone.

A PongSat with electronics. Credits: PongSat Flight Program

PongSats give students the chance to thrive during COVID. With science classrooms closed, PongSat is more important than ever. We have been able to conduct safe flights with a minimum team all masked up and social distancing. PongSats made at home can be the inspiration to keep science education alive and to even thrive.

PongSats can be as simple or as complex as the student wants. Whether carrying a marshmallow to see if it puffs up in the vacuum of near space or an entire sophisticated satellite in miniature, PongSats create motivation, drive and passion in their creators. There are endless possibilities for experiments that can fit inside a ping pong ball. PongSat have carried seeds to see if exposure to cosmic rays affect their growth (it does!). They have also carried cameras, sensors, GPS’s and even LEGO mini-figures.

Over 80,000 students have participated in PongSat, flying over 18,000 unique experiments.

For more background on PongSats, here’s a link to “The PongSat Story”.

JP Aerospace, a volunteer-based space program, created the PongSat program in 2002. It started out with 14 students. Excitement about the program exploded. Every month tens of thousands of requests to fly are received. With new PongSat nonprofit organization we aim to fly them all.

July 12, 2020 Away 130 mission was the first PongSat flight of the year. Credits: PongSat Flight Program

PongSat as its own nonprofit entity has a stronger foundation. It means we can fly more PongSats , do outreach to more students and continue to hurl humanity toward space, one ping pong ball at a time.

“I’m convinced that the first person to walk on Mars is out there and they will already have flown a PongSat”,

declares Powell.

PongSat Flight Program (https://www.pongsat.org/) is a California 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.

The millionth PongSat may go far. Credits: PongSat Flight Program