Ping Pong Balls in Space
JP Aerospace, "America's
OTHER Space Program," as it likes to be known, uses it West Texas Space Port in
Fort Stockton to launch ping pong ball payloads to the edge of space. Supported
by big industry and mom & pop operations, JPA offers the spaceflight service
free of charge to school kids in order to promote aerospace exploration and science.
A variety of helium-filled balloons and sounding rockets have carried as many as
300 ping pong ball microexperiments in a single PongSat mission. The JPA team, consisting
of about 50 volunteers, has been at it for over 20 years. "Shaking up old notions
is core to what we're all about. That's how we fly paper rockets to Mach three or
space flights for thousands instead of billions of dollars," says founder John Powell.