Background Information

Welcome to the Nation Eclipse Ballooning Project Engineering team! Participants on the NEBP engineering teams will build and fly a set of high-altitude balloon payloads that include a Raspberry Pi streaming video system, two data collection units; the Pterodactyl and the RFD900, a flight termination system, iridium tracking system, and possibly a payload of your teams’ own design. Your team will also assemble a ground tracking station that will track and receive data from your balloon in flight. The balloon that your team launches will reach between 75,000 and 120,000 feet in altitude where it will float for a period of time during the eclipse and collect data and stream video of the eclipse back to the ground. Through participation in the project you will learn all of the fundamentals of high altitude balloon science and engineering.  


Engineering support videos/tutorials/manuals


   -ground tracking station

- balloon cutdown (flight termination) system

- Pi camera payload

- Iridium tracking unit

- RFD900

- pterodactyl

- vent valve (TBD)

-alignment and operation of ground tracking station

-operation and verification of iridium tracking system

-operation and setup of Pi Camera system

-operation and verification of RFD900

-operation and verification of pterodactyl

-payload string layout and connections

-balloon assembly, fill, and connection to payload string

-launching the balloon and payloads

Team Resources

-Flight safety procedures

-NOTAMS, Air Traffic Control, FAA Regulations

-prelaunch day checklist

-preflight checklist

   -post flight checklist


  • Engineering teams will have a workspace with basic hand and power tools.
  • Electronic fabrication tools such as soldering irons, wire cutters, wire strippers, etc.
  • Safety glasses and other required PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) as needed.
  • Engineering teams will attend virtual or in person training with their local POD leads.
  • View all training videos and on-line resources required to assemble and operate the full suite of equipment in the engineering payload string.
  • Become familiar with and abide by all FAA regulations pertaining to the safe operation of an unmanned free balloon.
  • All team members and participants will additionally commit to attending and participating in a minimum number of team meetings, trainings, and other events, as determined by the team leader and pod leader of the region.
  • After team proposals have been reviewed and teams selected, Team Leaders and Pod Leaders will submit a formal letter of acceptance to MSGC and home institutions.
  • Many teams will be paired together, based on geographic location, experience level, and team focus. Coordination between ET and Atmospheric Science (AS) teams is allowed but not required, as these communications will be managed by the NEBP leadership team.
  • Final identification of individual team members must be completed before the final BFW. This allows for securing lodging and transportation for all team members.
  • Teams must consist of at least one team leader, one student leader, and 5 student participants, although larger teams are allowed if appropriate staffing is provided.
  • Templates will be provided for submission documents required by team leaders for the registration and proposal process.
  • Teams will complete trainings and earn badges and certificates of completion in areas of general professional development as well as engineering team-specific technical training, both virtually and in-person

All teams will:

  • participate in practice flights before the 2023 and 2024 eclipse campaigns,
  • participate in eclipse field campaigns in 2023 and 2024 launching high altitude balloons from within the path of eclipse totality (travel likely required, however funding for travel within a team’s pod region is provided),
  • Process and save resulting engineering and science measurement data, & video
  • Engage in public outreach and science/engineering education at their launch site for 15 minutes per student participant or 2 hours total, whichever is less.
  • Eligible students who wish to remain involved in data analysis efforts, manuscript preparation and publication, and presentation at scientific conferences are encouraged to do so.
  • Each team will complete presentations to their community on their contributions to NEBP regardless of participation in subsequent data analysis.
  • Finally, all teams will adhere to guidelines and requirements outlined by appendices of NEBP for the duration of their participation (helium transportation, FAA regulations, vehicle and lodging requirements, etc.).