DemonSats cleared for space balloon launch

DemonSats-3 team Derek Dupre, Jordan Sensat and Arianna Jackson

A team of Northwestern State University students presented their Flight Readiness Review (FRR) before the Louisiana Space Grant Consortium (LaSPACE) on May 16, earning permission to launch their payload into space via sounding balloon. The DemonSats-3 team of Derek Dupre of Houma, Jordan Sensat of Pineville and Arianna Jackson of Mandeville, a student at Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts, integrated their payload onto the ACES-68 flight that launched on May 17 from Ragley. The flight can be tracked at

Joshua Lambert of Leesville is a fourth team member. NSU’s LaSPACE campus coordinator is Dr. Anna Dugas, assistant professor of physics. LSMSA students are eligible to participate in the two-semester program when they are recommended by their teachers and apply directly Dugas when she introduces the project at the LSMSA science seminar.

“This is the third time my teams are sending a payload, but this team is full of first timers,” Dugas said.

“I’m so excited today. We’re going to launch a bog balloon in the sky. I’ve been waiting a year for this,” Dupre said.

The Louisiana Aerospace Catalyst Experience for Students (LaACES) student ballooning program was developed to train a new generation of scientists and engineers for the aerospace industry and the general STEM workforce. LaSPACE students are exposed to aerospace project development from the design, fabrication, testing and operation of small payloads launched on a latex sounding balloon vehicle that will carry the experiments to the edge of space, an altitude of 32-35 kilometers.

LaSPACE is a consortium in the NASA National Space Grant and Fellowship Program network that is designed to network college, university and state education boards with partners in business, industry and the non-profit sector to develop aerospace science, research, technology, education and awareness.

LaACES is open to NSU students who are enrolled in Physics 3400 and/or Physics 3900, as well as other STEM students and students interested in STEM project management and technical writing with instructor permission. The group’s focus is learning how to complete a project affiliated with NASA. The project involves payload design, building and testing, as well as extensive documentation including preliminary design (PDR), critical design (CDR) and flight readiness review (FRR) reports.

“As you can imagine, a successful group must be compromised of members with different skills: electronic prototyping, microcontroller programming, technical writing, data analysis/statistics, oral presenting, and project management,” Dugas said.