Flying to Outer Space

Discussion in 'Hangar Flying' started by evantaylorstudios, Apr 14, 2011.

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  1. Apr 14, 2011 #1

    evantaylorstudios

    evantaylorstudios

    evantaylorstudios

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    My name is Evan Taylor, I am a 20-year old artist from Minnesota, in the Midwest United States.

    The Experimental Aircraft Association, Mankato Southern Minnesota EAA Chapter 642, invited me to give a presentation about one of my recent photography adventures.

    I thought you and your group may find interest in it.

    Enjoy! Let me know if you have any questions.

    -Evan Taylor

    --------------------------------------------
    VIDEO LINK: Outer Space - A Photographer's Journey on Vimeo

    NEWSPAPER LINK: Photographer sends camera to the edge of space » Local News » The Free Press, Mankato, MN
    --------------------------------------------
     
  2. Apr 14, 2011 #2

    Autodidact

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    That. Was awesome. Very, very cool. I loved it.
     
  3. Apr 15, 2011 #3
    Congrats for your achievement, it's also amazing the camera returned in one piece from "outer space" ..and you found it (even with GPS tracking)! Pity that the video is not clear enough though.

    BTW personally I had thought of this several years ago, but my other priorities were always higher... I wanted to send a DSLR to capture very high res photos of the earth.

    I think such a project is worth spending more, especially if you take care to get the camera back. With a high class DSLR like the Canon EOS 5D Mark II you can capture full HD video (of higher quality than a good HD camcorder) and 21 Megapixel photos which you can either sell later to stock photography sites or add them to your portfolio. But I think the value is in high res, high quality still photos.

    Another challenge would be to make the camera stay there indefinitely and transmit to you the photos digitally from time to time, charging the whole equipment with a solar panel. This would require a balloon that wouldn't blow up and that would be stabilized at a certain height (also not rotating fast). The equipment would also have to be protected from sun's radiation. I don't know how legal such an attempt would be though...
     
  4. Apr 15, 2011 #4

    Voyeurger

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    Great stuff! How far from the launch site was the retrieval?
     
  5. Apr 15, 2011 #5

    Nickathome

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    I doubt the camera made it to outer space. Granted it did get pretty high, but a balloon isn't capable of putting an object into outer space. I think the edge of space is 50 to 60 miles up. The curvature of the earth can be seen at around 20 miles, still within the atmosphere. Still a great achievement and some breathtaking pictures. I want to know how he got the parachute to deploy? Was it set to a barometric device, which would release it at a given altitude?
     
  6. Apr 15, 2011 #6

    Dana

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    But the parachute didn't deploy. I don't know how it was supposed to.

    The standard definition of the "edge" of space is 100km (62 miles). But to the newscritters, curved horizon + black sky = space.

    -Dana

    Cause of crash: Inadvertent contact with the ground.
     
  7. Apr 16, 2011 #7

    Nickathome

    Nickathome

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    I watched again and there does appear to be no parachute. I imagine the camera was placed inside some kind of impact proof box.
     
  8. Apr 16, 2011 #8

    Dana

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    According to the news story, the parachute was supposed to deploy but didn't. The remnants of the balloon created enough drag for it to survive the landing.

    -Dana

    Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds-- Albert Einstein
     
  9. Apr 17, 2011 #9

    wsimpso1

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    Usually, you just hang the apex of the 'chute from the balloon, and then hang the payload from the 'chute. When the balloon goes bang, the chute opens.

    From watching the video right after the balloon popped, it looked like the balloon may have fouled the chute. There are several ways that can happen, but just imagine the balloon only opens a little vent which propels the remnants of the balloon down into the 'chute, turning it inside out and dragging pieces of it out the side of the shroud cone. Then, instead of having a big very draggy thing above the payload that lets it float stably, you have a somewhat smaller, less draggy thing that is rather asymmetric and causes the payload to spin on the way down.

    For the big cosmic ray experiments (a college friend has flown several of these between doing his thesis and his work since) they actually fire a line of squibs along one side of the balloon - they want to tell it when it is time to come down, and then they want to make sure that the 'chute can deploy, so they make sure it will open completely by completely opening the balloon. Their package is big, expensive and kind of heavy...

    Billski
     
  10. Apr 18, 2011 #10

    Topaz

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    These sorts of flights are becoming quite common in the amateur world. A quick YouTube search will pull up a large number. There are even "meets" where groups come together to do mass launches.
     
  11. Apr 18, 2011 #11

    JMillar

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    How long before an airliner takes one on the chin? Or, more damaging, up the intake.
     
  12. Apr 18, 2011 #12
    @wsimpso1
    I think it would be more reliable to get rid of the balloon's remnants completely, by hanging it from a small electromagnet (forming an electric lock) and if desirable, detect the popping via a custom electric switch just under the hanging point, which will close a circuit as soon as the lifting (or gravity) force will disappear (just after the popping). The current flow will then open the electromagnetic lock and release the remnants of the balloon. To make sure the chute will deploy, a cone shaped surface could then be also released simultaneously from the same electromagnet which would pull up the chute and guarantee a full chute deployment. This is the most simple and reliable way I can think of as I'm writing (provided it would be properly implemented too).

    To make it more advanced and independent of the lifting force, the switch could be replaced with a more sophisticated sensor system that will detect the volume of the balloon (infinite ways to do that with electronics), but the electromagnetic-lock should remain, being the most reliable method.



    Then there must be something more challenging than that and still be feasible -the next step! :)




    It is dangerous to play with such things without a license, or without coordination with the authorities. Making the project more serious, adding sponsors and a bit of marketing will obviously make it far easier to get a license -minimizing the cost too. In that case it is worth it to make it more challenging than the previous attempts.


    The poster did it the right way as everyone else should:
    "He said he was on the phone with a Federal Aviation Administration staffer from launch to landing in accordance with flight-monitoring protocol, all the while tracking the balloon’s flight on his laptop via GPS signals."
     
  13. Apr 18, 2011 #13

    Topaz

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    There's a weight limit before you have to get special permits and an ATC window. I think the limit is something like 2.5lbs - although I'm practically pulling that out of thin air. Whatever it is, it's pretty low. Most of these things are a six-pack sized foam cooler, a cell phone, and a very small digital camera. An airliner - even presuming the astronomically slight chance of an actual collision with any of the hard bits hitting squarely, during the relatively brief time these things pass through the low flight levels - probably wouldn't even know contact had been made.

    From the videos I've seen, a lot of folks seem to put a corner-reflector style radar target on their balloon, in the hopes that that ATC sees them regardless.
     
  14. Apr 19, 2011 #14

    JMillar

    JMillar

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    Yeah, I was mostly joking, the ones I've seen are a pound or two at most. But you know, one close call, a couple of ambitious reporters, and next thing you know there's another law passed...

    Incidentally, does anyone know what the typical range of an ATC radar is to get a skin-paint? I always thought that without secondary radar they were pretty blind.
     
  15. Apr 19, 2011 #15

    autoreply

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    I know the military ground-radars can spot a 1" perfect reflector at 150 NM or so, if within sight. ATC here has a reported range of 75+ NM, los too. The major problem (here at least) is that they filter out slow reflections. If detected, your balloon is very likely seen as a bird or car and filtered out.
     

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