For 18 years the PongSat program has been part of JP Aerospace. On March 9th, 2002, fourteen experiments from a high school math class in Sacramento, California flew to the edge of space aboard a balloon platform.
PongSat started as a way to make flying student projects easier. We were inspired by the idea of the ‘CubeSat’, a standardized cube in which students can build satellites. This makes it much easier to integrate the student satellite into a rocket going to space.
We took this concept and went small. A spaceship in a ping pong ball. It changed everything! We went from flying two student projects a year to flying thousands. We have now flown over 18,000 PongSats, involving over 80,000 students.
PongSats are flown for free. There is no charge of any kind to the school, student, group or individual.
What kind of projects have students put in PongSats? Let me tell you, it will blow your mind. PongSats have been as simple as plant seeds and as complex as full probes with cameras, sensors and computers.
About eight years ago, I mentioned on our blog that I liked PongSats with racing stripes. Now nearly every PongSat is a work of art. There is a natural connection between art and science, and PongSat has found it.
There is a passion for science and engineering through space exploration. The PongSat program moves that passion beyond watching on TV or YouTube and puts it directly into student’s hands.
And now PongSat is its own non profit organization.
PongSat as its own non profit entity has a stronger foundation and can marshal greater resources. It means we can fly more PongSats , do outreach to more students and continue to hurl humanity toward space, one ping pong ball at a time.
In this time of Covid with science classrooms closed PongSat is more important than ever. We have been able to conduct safe flights at this time. PongSats made at home can be the inspiration to keep science education alive and even thrive.
It’s not just for traditional students. PongSats have been flow by homeschoolers, scouting groups, seniors classes, classes in refugee camps and people from around the world wanting to be part in the hands on experience of reaching out to the black. Now as a non profit PongSat continues to make a vital contribution to education.