Stratofox  Aerospace Tracking & Recovery Team

Stratofox is a team of Amateur Radio operators mostly in or near Silicon Valley who perform or participate in tracking and recovery operations for amateur, entrepreneurial and research rocketry and high-altitude balloon flights. The team also organizes training, trips and practice related to aerospace tracking in order to maintain demand for our team's expertise.

On May 18, 2004 Stratofox became the first and so far only amateur group to recover a rocket which has re-entered the atmosphere after a space flight (defined as reaching 100km+ altitude.) We led the search on behalf of the Civilian Space Exploration Team (CSXT) to find their rocket, the first amateur rocket successfully launched to space. There was damage to the primary radio beacon that could have told us where it was. But we still found it via radio direction-finding for a secondary beacon. We located it in rugged mountains 20 miles from the launch site only 24 hours after the re-entry. So we had to work for our place in history.

Stratofox has also become the only non-government group which has performed Space-Launch Range Safety operations, clearing the downrange area prior to launch. Each time we have performed this role to the FAA's satisfaction. We've done this several times for Paragon Astronautics' space launches.

For our members, the motivation is to be invited to all the cool launches. Space enthusiasts can now do something with that interest. Though it still requires proving you "have what it takes" to get in.

For our client organizations, we offer assistance that aerospace startups couldn't afford even if it was available for sale.

Following that success, some people have described what we do as nearspacecraft hunting. It's a specialization among aerospace enthusiasts which we hope to promote further.

Stratofox develops and maintains contacts with various aerospace groups. Our goal is to get more opportunities for our members to participate in launches and to perform or assist in searches for the vehicles. It's been good for making lots of friends with similar interests. And now we've assembled a team that has spacecraft-tracking experience like no other amateur group in the world.

Our group has become familiar with the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, a common launch site used for amateur, entrepreneurial and research aerospace flights. This familiarity can help other groups using Black Rock as a launch site.

The name "Stratofox" is short for "Stratospheric Foxhunt". Ham Radio operators call a search for a hidden transmitter a "foxhunt". We go "hunting" using telemetry or radio direction finding to look for radio transmitters that fell from (or through) the Stratosphere.

Stratofox News and Info

Stratofox team members have participated in these events

To discuss any of these topics, please subscribe to Stratofox's aerospace talk mail list.

2013

Presentation: "Stratofox Aerospace Tracking Team" by Ian Kluft at Space Access 2013, Phoenix, Arizona, April 2013
2012
Presentation: "Stratofox Aerospace Tracking Team" by Ian Kluft at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2012, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, July 2012

2009

Stratofox participation in the DARPA Network Challenge, December 5, 2009
Stratofox participated in the DARPA Network Challenge
Remote support for Mars Society TEMPO3 research balloon, September 26, 2009
Stratofox provided support via the Internet from California for the Mars Society's TEMPO3 balloon flight in Colorado.
Stratofox Crater Assault 4, April 2009
Expedition to investigate the theory of an impact crater at Black Rock

2008

Japanese CanSat Search 2008 (JCS08), December 2008
Stratofox recovered a missing CanSat research payload from the vast Black Rock Desert for a university from Japan.
Stratofox 5, September 2008
Familiarization and exploration trip to the Black Rock Desert, Nevada
Stratofox Crater Assault 3, September 2008
Expedition to investigate the theory of an impact crater at Black Rock
Stanford/NASA "BioLaunch" B08A & B08B research balloons, March 2008
Stratofox assisted with Stanford's 7th and 8th "BioLaunch" high-altitude research balloon flights in central California.

2007

Stanford/NASA "BioLaunch" B07E & B07F research balloons, December 2007
Stratofox assisted with Stanford's 5th and 6th "BioLaunch" high-altitude research balloon flights in central California.
Stanford/NASA "BioLaunch" B07C research balloon, June 2007
Stratofox assisted with Stanford's third "BioLaunch" high-altitude research balloon flight in central California.
Stratofox 4, August 2007
Familiarization and exploration trip to the Black Rock Desert, Nevada
Stratofox Crater Assault 2, June 2007
Expedition to investigate the theory of an impact crater at Black Rock
Stanford/NASA "BioLaunch" B07B research balloon, May 2007
Stratofox assisted with Stanford's second "BioLaunch" high-altitude research balloon flight in central California.
Stanford/NASA "BioLaunch" B07A research balloon, March 2007
Stratofox assisted Stanford University and NASA Ames Research Center with tracking and recovery of a high-altitude research balloon in central California
Stratofox Crater Assault 1, January 2007
Expedition to investigate the theory of an impact crater at Black Rock

2006

Stratofox 3, September 2006
Familiarization and exploration trip to the Black Rock Desert, Nevada
Stratofox assists with AeroPac's third To100K test flight, August 2006
Stratofox performed tracking and recovery assistance for AeroPac's third To100K Project launch at the AeroPac's Aeronaut launch, August 4-6, 2006.

2005

Stratofox performs Range Safety for Paragon Dragoon IIB space launch attempt, September 2005
Stratofox performed Range Safety for Paragon Astronautics' Dragoon IIB space launch attempt, Sept 26-27, 2005.
Stratofox assists with AeroPac's second To100K test flight, September 2005
Stratofox performed tracking and recovery assistance for AeroPac's second To100K Project launch at the AeroPac's XPRS launch, September 24, 2005.
Stratofox assists with AeroPac's first To100K test flight, August 2005
Stratofox performed tracking and recovery assistance for AeroPac's first To100K Project launch at the AeroPac's Aeronaut launch, August 4-7, 2005.

2004

Stratofox recovers booster from CSXT/GoFast space launch rocket, August to November 2004
Stratofox recovered the missing booster section from the May 17 CSXT/GoFast space launch. Updates will be announced on the Stratofox talk mail list.
Paragon Labs' Dragoon 2 rocket launch, June 2004
Research rocket space launch attempt
Stratofox recovers CSXT/GoFast rocket, May 2004
The world's first unmanned private-funded launch to space - spacecraft recovered by search teams organized by Stratofox
Stratofox begins search for Debris 6, April 2004
Initial scouting expedition to Utah and Nevada to look for "Debris 6" from STS-107
CalPoly/Stanford research balloon, March 2004
Research balloon test to 75,000', recovered by Stanford team
2003
Paragon Labs' Dragoon 2 rocket launch, first attempt, September 2003
Research rocket space launch attempt - see photos by Ian Kluft, Sean Lynch and Rafael Skodlar
Stratofox 2, August 2003
Familiarization camping trip to the Black Rock Desert. See photos by Ian Kluft, Sean Lynch and Rafael Skodlar
Paragon Labs' Dragoon 1 rocket launch (invited by CSXT/OEX), June 2003
Sounding rocket test to 80,000', recovered by Stratofox volunteers 6.7 miles away 15 minutes after touchdown
2002
Balloon v1.0 (Jim Meehan), November 2002
Flight of balloon with Linux computer up to 80,000' in California from Silicon Valley to the San Joaquin Valley (as seen on Slashdot)
West Texas Spaceport Inauguration (JP Aerospace), October 2002
balloon flight to 100,000', rocket flight to 10,000', both recovered
CSXT Space Shot 2002, September 2002
Amateur space launch attempt
Stratofox 1, September 2002
Familiarization camping trip to the Black Rock Desert, Nevada
JP Aerospace "Away 9", May 2002
Balloon flight to 90,000', recovered 20 miles away 20 minutes after touchdown
Oklahoma Spaceport Inauguration (JP Aerospace), March 2002
Away 14 flight to 100,000' recovered 80 miles away 90 minutes after touchdown; Away 15 flight to 95,000' recovered 90 miles away 20 minutes after touchdown
2001
JP Aerospace DSS2, October 2001
Flight of weather balloon and Dark Sky Station, DSS flight failed, weather balloon flight to 108,000', recovered 20 miles away
JP Aerospace DSS1, March 2001
Test flight of Dark Sky Station, flew to 37,000', recovered 80 miles away

Presentations by Stratofox team members

"Stratofox Aerospace Tracking Team" by Ian Kluft at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2012, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, July 2012
"Stratofox: Tracking Balloons & Rockets with the help of Ham Radio", October 2008
Presentation by Ian Kluft at ARRL Pacificon in San Ramon, California
"The Stratofox Aerospace Tracking Team", February 2008
Presentation by Ian Kluft at RadioFest 2008 in Monterey, California
"The Stratofox Aerospace Tracking Team", April 2007
Presentation by Ian Kluft at the Carter Observatory in Wellington, New Zealand
"The Stratofox Aerospace Tracking Team", May 2006
Presentation by Ian Kluft KO6YQ and Chris Verges KG4YSN at the Santa Clara County Amateur Radio Association (SCCARA) in Santa Clara, California
"The Stratofox Aerospace Tracking Team", April 2006
Presentation by Ian Kluft, James Robertson and Sean Lynch at Space Access '06 in Phoenix, Arizona
"Amateur Radio at the Stratofox Aerospace Tracking Team", April 2005
Presentation by Ian Kluft KO6YQ at the West Valley Amateur Radio Association in San Jose, California
also presented by Ian Kluft, James Robertson and Sean Lynch at Space Access '05 in Phoenix, Arizona
"Amateur Radio Tracking of High-altitude Balloons", August 2002
Presentation by Ian Kluft KO6YQ and Owen DeLong KB6MER at the West Valley Amateur Radio Association in San Jose, California
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Aerospace Affiliations
(alphabetical order)

Association of Experimental Rocketry of the Pacific (AeroPac)
San Rafael, California

Civilian Space Exploration Team (CSXT)
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Daytona Beach, Florida

Mars Society
(TEMPO3 Project)
Olney, Maryland

Paragon Astronautics
Denver, Colorado

SpeedUp
Chugwater, Wyoming

Stanford University
Palo Alto, California

Sugar Shot to Space
Irvine, California

UP Aerospace
Denver, Colorado

Web Site Sponsors

Thunder.Net Communications
San Jose, California

Layer42 Networks
Santa Clara, California

Stratofox is organized as a Special Interest Group (SIG) of The South Bay Community Network, Inc. (sbay.org) of San Jose, California, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. Donations are appreciated.
Stratofox is a trademark of the Stratofox Aerospace Tracking Team.