High Altitude MIL-STD-1553 Interface

1-2 Ch MIL-STD-1553 Bus Card MPCIE2-1553

An application note on the High Altitude MIL-STD-1553 Interface was written by our friends at Alta Data. We have supplied a condensed version which highlights the key points, implications and briefly describes the solution.  For further insight, read the original here.

Application Note: Alta’s MIL-STD-1553 Interface Card Demonstrates Readiness for Harsh Environments


Alta Data Technologies is proud to announce the successful deployment of its MIL-STD-1553 network product. Conducted by Aerostar in their recent multi-balloon campaign involving the Thunderhead Balloon system. Aerostar, with over 65 years of expertise in lighter-than-air innovations, selected Alta’s MPCIE2-1553 interface card to support high-altitude Tactical Data Link (TDL) radio testing.

Thunderhead Balloon System

Aerostar’s Thunderhead Balloon Systems utilise high-altitude wind patterns. This provides advanced navigation and persistence capabilities over targeted areas. These systems provide controlled flight and long-duration missions. In addition, they are at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional stratospheric platforms. Capable of being flown in constellations or individually. The Thunderhead Balloons support a variety of mission requirements from land-based and maritime launch platforms, making their applications highly dynamic and diverse.

Application of Alta’s MPCIE2-1553 Interface Card

For Aerostar’s innovative flight vehicle, selecting a robust and high-quality COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) product was crucial. This is due to the harsh operating conditions at high altitudes. Alta’s MPCIE2-1553 interface card was chosen for its reliability and performance in these challenging environments. The card withstood the extreme temperature and pressure conditions at near-space altitudes (50,000-70,000 ft) for over two weeks. In conclusion, ensuring a stable link in the control chain for Aerostar’s payload.

Eric Ramsey, Engineering Program Manager at Aerostar, emphasised the reliability of Alta’s product, stating, “Alta’s standard COTS card survived the challenging temperature and pressure conditions in near-space for over two weeks of flight time, providing a rock-solid link in the chain of control for our payload. Additionally, Alta’s rapid delivery and support minimised concerns in our design and manufacturing processes.”

Benefits and Performance of the High Altitude MIL-STD-1553 Interface

Aerostar’s lighter-than-air platforms, which have served esteemed clients such as NASA, Google, and the U.S. Air Force, benefit significantly from Alta’s reliable 1553 and ARINC products. These platforms fill the capability gap between aircraft and satellites. Therefore, offering crucial advantages in communications, data relay, surveillance, and intelligence missions. Harry Wild, VP of Sales at Alta, stated, “We strive to provide the best possible, no-risk 1553 and ARINC products to our customers, and it is an honor to work on Aerostar’s projects.”


The successful integration and performance of Alta’s MPCIE2-1553 interface card in Aerostar’s Thunderhead Balloon System highlight its readiness for the harshest environments. Alta continues to support advanced Aerospace and Defence applications with high-quality, reliable MIL-STD-1553 and ARINC interface products.

About Aerostar

Aerostar is dedicated to connecting, protecting, and saving lives through its lighter-than-air innovations. Based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Aerostar provides world-leading solutions in the Aerospace and Defence markets, focusing on stratospheric balloon systems and radar solutions. Learn more at Aerostar.

About Alta Data Technologies

Alta is a rapidly growing private company offering industry-leading MIL-STD-1553 and ARINC COTS avionics interface products. These products are available in high-density channel counts and Ethernet converters, including interfaces for PCI Express, PMC, XMC, and various computer systems such as VPX, VME, cPCI/PXI, and PXIe. Learn more at Alta Data Technologies.

Metromatics provide local sales and support for the Alta Data Product range in Australia and New Zealand. To find out more about their product range, contact us.