Space-Bound Instrumentation Packages

Introducing the Eldorado Space Program

Instrumentation packages are often sent into the upper atmosphere via high altitude balloons to collect a wide range of data. Data transmission can be achieved using both satellite and microwave links, and the data itself can include down range velocity, vertical ascent rate, latitude, longitude, elevation, system health, signal strength, down range distance, heading and trajectory, and more.

A 17-year veteran of Sandia National Labs and founder of a Silicon Valley nanotechnology company, teacher Paul McWhorter established his high school’s first Space Program.

Edorado High School sends instrumentation packages, called Eagles, to the edge of space and transmits back temperature, pressure, and GPS data, as well as live video. In all, twenty different data channels are telemetered back to ‘Mission Control’ in the classroom.

Eldorado Space Program

Due to technical and regulatory requirements, a high-gain microwave antenna on the ground is needed. The challenge here is that a high-frequency microwave radio beam has poor propagation so it must be pointed extremely precisely at the space-bound instrument package.

Pointing errors of just a few degrees can lead to loss of signal, so a separate and reliable way of transmitting the GPS location of the remote device is needed to help keep the microwave antenna aimed in the right direction and re-establish a link if lost.

This is where the RockBLOCK comes in. The RockBLOCK acts as a back-up system to help the main microwave array maintain and regain connection.

“Mission Success depends on reliable transmission of GPS coordinates from the instrument package back to the ground, We have chosen the RockBLOCK modem and Iridium satellite network because it provides rock solid connectivity.”

Christine Lindsey,

Mission Specialist

The RockBLOCK: Plug-and-Play Satellite Connectivity

RockBLOCKs are a versatile, compact, low-power, and dependable way of sending and receiving data from remote locations. Devices use the Iridium satellite network, allowing truly global coverage.

GPS data is transmitted via RockBLOCK to Ground Control’s servers. It’s then pushed via HTTP post to the client’s server which adjusts the high-gain antenna position accordingly, thus maintaining the links.


  • Truly global two-way coverage
  • Low power usage, small antenna
  • Plug and play product, simple setup
  • Reliable data transmission with acknowledgements
  • Lifetime phone and email support.
RockBlock 9602

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