PSAS/ AutonomousRecovery

PSAS Autonomous Recovery System


To start with, you can read the description of the project at the old ?Autonomous Recovery page. The project was on hold for quite a while, but it is being worked on again now. If you are interested in helping (especially if you are good at mechanical engineering or welding), please contact ?PeterWelte.


  1. Create the physical prototype (a device to control the parafoil), probably similar to the rectangular design from the Iowa State folks. The prototype will be called ARS1, for Autonomous Recovery System No. 1. We might modify it a bit to make it so the avionics module can attach to it. I'm taking welding this quarter, so hopefully I can work on it during that class.
  2. Test prototype using remote control. At first it can just be dropped off a tall building, or a bridge (with a tether attached). Eventually, we might look into dropping it from a whether balloon or airplane. See Iowa State's parafoil launches T84 and T82 from tethered weather balloons. Hmm, I wonder if we could just launch it high (~50m) above a field using a large slingshot or catapult... if it'd work, that may be cheapest/easiest.
  3. Create Autonomous Recovery software, which can run as part of the flight computer, using the data from the avionics sensors. Field test the software using the same dropping methods as with the physical prototype tests.
  4. Create the final physical module design, which will be called ARS2. This module will have to fit inside the LV2 body, be deployed at apogee, and be able to hold the weight of the rocket under it while it steers the parafoil above it to a preset landing spot*.

*landing spot: one possibility here is to give the rocket multiple possible locations, each with their own 'desireability' level, and that way the rocket has some backup landing sites to choose from if it goes way off course. This is a software feature we won't have to worry about for quite a while.

Just a thought: It would be interesting if during the development we could deploy ARS1 from LV2. The motivation for this would be that it would be darn nifty to drop a payload from LV2. In order for this to work though, this payload module would have to contain the ARS1 controller device, a small parafoil, and essentially a duplicate avionics module (since we probably cannot separate the main avionics module from the rocket at apogee). Has any one else contacted us about deployable payloads yet? If there is more interest in this, I think we should look at it. Especially since it would be the airframe people doing the most work for the deployable payload system, and they seem to have no problems getting things done. ;)

Another thought: Perhaps we would want ARS2 to contain essentially a replica of the avionics module, and allow either the ARS2 or the avionics module to control the parafoil so we have redundant system.


  1. Just search google for "autonomous recovery parafoil". (Wow! PSAS is #1)
  2. Iowa State Recovery Guidance System
  3. Kaymont sounding balloons
  4. Scientific Sales sounding baloons
  5. Balloon1.0 (homemade howto)

-- ?PeterWelte - 26 September 2004