The Stanford Student Space Initiative is the largest project-based engineering group at Stanford with over 300 active members. We build and launch high-altitude balloons, rockets, and satellites -- we're even building a DNA synthesizer for microgravity. Having run the organization as co-president and worked in other leadership roles, I now focus on writing code as the lead developer for the balloons team, managing other programmers underneath me.
As co-president, I'm responsible for pushing us towards our vision: to train the next generation of leaders in the space industry. That means -- as well as day-to-day leadership and being the face of SSI to organizations ranging from venture capitalists to NASA, I'm always finding ways to grow our presence on the world stage.
As Operations Team Lead, I was responsible for making sure the group as a whole runs smoothly -- think of it like a COO role. Managing a six-figure budget; pursuing sponsorships and connecting to the industry; organizing events like talks from a Google VP or the President of SpaceX Gwynne Shotwell -- it all falls under the operations team.
The Stanford Student Space Initiative has launched dozens of high altitude balloons. These balloons can go up to 100,000 feet or travel as far as Morocco. Yet these flights would hardly be valuable without the ability to read, parse, and visualize the data streaming back to the ground. To that end, we've built a powerful mission control suite, known as HABMC or the High Altitude Balloon Mission Control.
The data comes from sensors on board the balloon, which is then heavily compressed and sent over the Iridium satellite network. Naturally, what exactly that data is varies with each flight, which means that HABMC has to be extremely flexible. In addition to visualizing the telemetry data sent on every flight, HABMC has to be capable of everything from displaying ozone concentrations to detecting voltage spikes. Add in having to make predictions using gigabytes of NOAA wind data, error detection, and supporting data ingestion at 8 Mbps with subsecond latency, and it's a significant project. You can read more about its features here.
As Lead Developer, I train and teach members underneath me as well as having written the vast majority of the codebase. Split into a variety of microservices like the prediction server or the high-bandwidth data intake, HABMC lets me practise all aspects of computer science, from data structures to frontend to my personal favorite, scalability.
Balloons Mission Control Dashboard