Design and construction of a carbon fiber gondola for the SPIDER balloon-borne telescope

J. D. Soler, P. A.R. Ade, M. Amiri, S. J. Benton, J. J. Bock, J. R. Bond, S. A. Bryan, C. Chiang, C. C. Contaldi, B. P. Crill, O. P. Doré, M. Farhang, Jeffrey P. Filippini, L. M. Fissel, A. A. Fraisse, A. E. Gambrel, N. N. Gandilo, S. Golwala, J. E. Gudmundsson, M. HalpernM. Hasselfield, G. C. Hilton, W. A. Holmes, V. V. Hristov, K. D. Irwin, W. C. Jones, Z. K. Kermish, C. L. Kuo, C. J. Mactavish, P. V. Mason, K. G. Megerian, L. Moncelsi, T. Morford, J. M. Nagy, C. B. Netterfield, A. S. Rahlin, C. D. Reintsema, J. E. Ruhl, M. C. Runyan, J. A. Shariff, A. Trangsrud, C. Tucker, R. S. Tucker, A. D. Turner, A. C. Weber, D. V. Wiebe, E. Y. Young

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


We introduce the light-weight carbon fiber and aluminum gondola designed for the Spider balloon-borne telescope. Spider is designed to measure the polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation with unprecedented sensitivity and control of systematics in search of the imprint of inflation: a period of exponential expansion in the early Universe. The requirements of this balloon-borne instrument put tight constrains on the mass budget of the payload. The Spider gondola is designed to house the experiment and guarantee its operational and structural integrity during its balloon-borne flight, while using less than 10% of the total mass of the payload. We present a construction method for the gondola based on carbon fiber reinforced polymer tubes with aluminum inserts and aluminum multi-tube joints. We describe the validation of the model through Finite Element Analysis and mechanical tests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGround-Based and Airborne Telescopes V
EditorsHelen J. Hall, Larry M. Stepp, Roberto Gilmozzi
ISBN (Electronic)9780819496133
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
EventGround-Based and Airborne Telescopes V - Montreal, Canada
Duration: Jun 22 2014Jun 27 2014

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


OtherGround-Based and Airborne Telescopes V


  • Spider
  • balloon-borne telescope
  • composite materials
  • cosmic microwave background
  • structures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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