Great Plains Super Launch 2002

(GPSL 2002)

 GPSL 2002 is the third annual summer launch of amateur radio balloons (near space launches) from the Johnson Near Space Center (JNSC), south of the town of Manhattan, Kansas.  This year GPSL 2002 will take place over the days of 5,6 and possibly 7 July 2002.  In addition to the launches this year, GPSL 2002 will also feature a symposium on amateur near space, the first since 1993.  The symposium is a chance for team members of near space programs to share history and ideas and to advance the state of the art.   

 GPSL 2001 saw three simultaneous balloon launches (a record number for this type of activity), with one mission reaching an altitude of 91,365 feet.  We hope to break the record this year with twice as many launches.  Last year�s GPSL was covered by Weatherwise Magazine.  See the Nov/Dec 2001 issue of Weatherwise for details.

 The Symposium

The GPSL 2002 symposium takes place on Friday, 5 July 2002 in the Hale Library�s Global Room on the campus of Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas. 

 Visitor parking is located on the west side of the campus.  Parking passes are available at the campus police station, inside East Stadium. 

 Six presentations are planned for the symposium and additional presentations are possible.  Currently, the presentations planned are (in alphabetic order):  

  •  Bill Brown, WB8ELK � Various Topics
  • Mark Conner, N9XTN � Meteorology of High Altitude Ballooning
  • Jack Crabtree, AA0P � About The ANSR
  • Marty Griffin, WA0GEH � EOSS Tracking and Recovery Processes
  • Paul Verhage, KD4STH � TVNSP Airframes and Electronics
  • Ralph Wallio, W0RPK � Working Towards More Accurate Track Predictions

Schedule of events for the symposium

7:30 AM                                  Setup and social hour

9:00 AM � 12:00 PM               Introductions and Morning Presentations

12:00 PM � 1:00 PM               Lunch at the Gold Fork

1:00 PM � 5:00 PM                 Afternoon Presentations and Open Forum

The Gold Fork is located across the south side of the campus, about a ten-minute walk from the library. 

After they symposium there will be an opportunity to tour the JNSC.  Time will be short, but some equipment can be setup during this time.

Schedule of events after the symposium

6:00 PM � 7:30 PM                 Tour/Setup at JNSC

8:00 PM - ?                             Dinner at Sirloin Stockade, Highway 24

 Proceedings from the presentations will be available for $10.00

The Launch

All GPSL near space launches take place at the Johnson Near Space Center, located 9.6 miles south of Manhattan, Kansas on McDowell Creek Road.  This site is also located 1.25 miles north of Interstate 70 on the McDowell Creek Exit, exit number 307.  Short tours of the site can be arranged in advanced by contacting Paul Verhage.  A more formal tour will take place after the symposium.  Helium will be available on-site for launch teams requesting tanks by late May.  If a total of six or more tanks are required at the launch, they will cost $45 a tank (240 cubic feet).  There will be a Special Events Station and Mission Control at the JNSC.  Those individuals interested in helping out are requested to contact Bill All by late June.     

Schedule for launch day, Saturday, 6 July 2002

5:00 AM                                  Doors open at JNSC

5:30                                         Begin balloon filling

7:00                                         Begin launching

Sunday, 7 July will be a backup launch day in case of bad weather.

About Manhattan, Kansas

A map of Manhattan is available at the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce website at or at

 A list of available motels in Manhattan is listed at

Most of the new motels are located on east and northeast side of town on Highway 24.  These directions are the easiest way to get to these motels.  Exit from I-70 on exit 313 and go north towards Manhattan (about ten miles).  This road eventually becomes Pillsbury Drive.  Be in the right lane as you approach the bridge.  Make the first right after driving over the river and then exit from the bridge.  Make a left turn at the traffic light at the end of the exit.  This road is Fort Riley Blvd.  Get into the right lane as soon as possible.  Continue north to the next traffic light.  Make a right turn onto Highway 24.  Most motels are located on your left as you leave town.  

In Manhattan, a full-hookup RV Park is located at the Tuttle Creek Lake State Park.  The park is located on Ft. Riley Blvd on the northeast side of town.  To get there take the same roads to get to the motels, but do not exit on Highway 24.  Drive straight through the traffic light and out of town.  The park is located on your right and is well marked.

 About K-State

Maps of the K-State campus are available on-line at

About the Johnson Near Space Center

The JNSC has been used for amateur near space launches since 1996.  Located at the JNSC is the Johnson Energy Lab, which is a building sufficiently large enough to fill over one dozen balloons.  The main doors are large enough to safely carry filled 3000-gram balloons through.  The JNSC is also surrounded by several acres of private land making launches safe for the public.  Helium bottles will be delivered to the JNSC for those requesting them.  The cost is $45 for a 240 cubic foot tank if six or more tanks are ordered.  Call by June 15th with your requirements.  Linweld is providing the helium for GPSL 2002 at a discount. 

Check the webpage for JNSC map and location.

 The Official GPSL 2002 Website 

Check the official GPSL website for up to date information and maps.  Ralph Wallio has again graciously offered to host the website for GPSL 2002.  The latest information on this event, including maps, can be found at:


Register for GPSL 2002 by contacting the Event Coordinator, Paul Verhage.  Registration information is due by 1 June 2002.  When registering, give the following information:

  • Name
  • Number attending
  • If room for a display is needed
  • If you want a copy of proceedings
  • If you need helium and how many tanks

Money for helium ($45 per tank) and proceedings ($10 per copy) are also due by 1 June 2002.


Paul Verhage:
(208) 631-7162
207 Crestline #3, Caldwell, ID 83605

 Don Pfister:
(913) 341-1368