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CNNSP logo

The Beginning (Feb-2002)

How the Central Nebraska Near Space Program got started…

My first exposure to this hobby known as ARHAB or Amateur Radio High Altitude Ballooning, was in February 2002 when a friend shared an article he found online about MABEL-1. It was about these guys in Michigan that had assembled some electronic packages, tied them to a weather balloon and let it go. They were able to track the real-time position of the balloon, take pictures and send video from the balloon, among other things. This looked like the kind project I could have fun with, so I did a little research.  I was curious about the radios that they were using for their communication and found out they were using amateur radio modes and frequencies. I discovered that you had to acquire a license in order to legally use amateur radio equipment.  I purchased a book, studied, and passed the test for the Technicians Class license in April 2002. The project was sort of “on hold” for about two years after that. I got sidetracked with international communication and other uses for amateur radio after earning my General Class license in April 2003. Early in 2004 the bug bit me again, this time hard enough to start seriously researching what it would take to launch one of these things. I started reading all I could about the hobby online. My biggest influences came from EOSS the Edge of Space Sciences in ColoradoNSTAR the Nebraska Stratospheric Amateur Radio group out of Bellevue, and Paul Verhage who teaches in Idaho and writes a bi-monthly near space article for Nuts & Volts magazine. Once I started assembling my own payload to send to near space, I started communicating regularly via email with Mark N9XTN from the NSTAR group. I knew it would be more fun and whole lot easier if we had a group of people to help with this project. I contacted several local individuals, all who are “hams” and got a favorable response. CNNSP was born. NSTAR extended an open invitation to join them on any one of their launches. We finally got the chance to help with one of their missions on May 7, 2005. Mark made a recommendation that we fly our first few flights in tandem with another group just to be sure all of our gear would perform as expected.  A date and location were agreed upon, and CNNSP-01 flew its first tandem flight with NSTAR on May 30, 2005 from the Seward, NE fairgrounds.

I’d like to personally thank the following groups and / or individuals for their contribution in helping CNNSP get started:

Mark, Wayne and everyone else from NSTAR
Mike, Rick and folks at EOSS
Paul Verhage – KD4STH

Jack – WY0F
Jeff – K0JLR
Doug – KA0DOC
Gene – WB0PKP
Stan – N0YXV

…and all the rest of the ARHAB community for sharing your ideas, results, and expertise.

Thank you,

- R. Hammond KC0MWM