Mission Control App: Development

Another milestone: Yesterday our friends at Menlo Innovations in Ann Arbor delivered the final version of Mission Control, the mobile app we will use for tracking flights. Chapeau!

Previously, James here at HAPP Research had set up a web app that we can use for tracking and recovery. Works great, but it requires a web browser for access, and it only allows access to credentialed users (us). That means our friends and family and fans – all 3 of them – can't easily follow the flights in real time from the comfort of their living room sofas.

So while a mobile app for the masses is optional for running a successful mission, it sure is cool, and we're super thankful that the Menlo team volunteered to create it. It's sort of like dessert: not requisite to enjoy a good meal, but it sure puts a smile on your face. Maybe we should have named the app Crème brûlée?

"Ah, but doesn't it violate the do-it-yourself ethos of this project if professional programmers write an app for you," you may ask. Well, thanks for asking. First of all, the folks at Menlo heard about the HAPP project and volunteered to help, so we consider them a part of our DIY team, not paid software engineers. Second, the mobile app is, strictly speaking, optional for completion of a mission, and we handled the essential bits. Third, the mobile app allows us to provide live tracking to the general public. While this was never a goal for the HAPP project, it's never been done as far as we know, so why turn down the opportunity to blaze new trails? </rationalization>

We had our wrap-up meeting at Menlo yesterday and I presented the team with a mounted poster to mark the occasion. It's one of the posters available in our web store here.

A huge HAPPy thanks to Helen, Brian, Lisa, Dan, and Kevin, all pictured below. Menlo contributors not pictured are Michelle, Andrew, Eric, Joe, Kealy, Ted, Chris, David, Ethan, Michael, Nick, Rob, Zane, Matt, Yasmin, and Kyler.

Thanks everyone!

Thanks everyone!

Why call it Mission Control? The Menlo team sorta grooved on the technology connections between the HAPP and NASA's Apollo Command Module, and we decided to pay homage to the NASA folks in Houston. During the HAPP project we explicitly made use of NASA technical archives while designing the RCS jet nozzles, autopilot control algorithm, aeroshell shape, flight dynamics and center of gravity, and the ELS parachute system.

Here's a screen cap of Mission Contron in action. We'll provide a walk-through of the app in a future post as soon as Apple finishes their review and releases it into the App Store. Yes, we're also releasing an Android version in Google Play. Stay tuned – it won't be long now!

Tranquility screen cap.jpg