White Star Balloon Valve Vacuum Test Video

We have been fairly quiet publicly, but many subsystems are coming to completion rapidly, including the  helium gas overflow vent valve.  Completion of anything flying on a ballon means it’s time to do some science!  Tests must be done, data must be noted, hypotheses checked.  Gary Flispart and I put together a detailed technical video explanation of the vacuum leak test system we’ve made.

Stay tuned for more updates at http://whitestarballoon.org , we are on track to launch in the next month or two!

Dan Bowen
White Star Team Lead

SPITBall-1 Flight Initial Recap

Hi All, the flight of the SuperPressure Initiated Termination Balloon Flight 1 was successful as far as we can tell so far.  We don’t know for sure because we haven’t gotten the SD cards that hold the video and science data on them.  Technical results as they come in over the next week will be posted on our wiki site, here.

With just skeleton assembly, launch and mission control crews preparations for this flight had to be less organized than we’ve done in the past for SpeedBall flight attempts.  We allowed for that by targeting an early launch time, with plenty of daylight left for schedule slip.

The massive zero pressure balloon was launched from SpacePort Indiana around 3:30 PM EST, by having the payload support crew run with the wind as soon as they released the balloon, allowing the balloon to rise straight up as it lifted each payload.

The balloon landed about 1.5 hours later on a family’s home in Miamisburg OH and was recovered shortly after.  The family made a youtube video of the balloon on the house!

Thanks to all who helped!   Some science observations follow.  The three pics above were emailed to us by the recovery crew in Ohio.   More pics available on Flickr here.

Continue reading

Amateur Superpressure Research at UKHAS Balloon Conference

I recently gave a presentation on the frontier of amateur science ballooning, a type of balloon called the ‘superpressure’.  The event was the United Kingdom High Altitude Society first annual Amateur Balloon Conference on October 15, 2011, in London, England. I was unable to travel there, so I combined Skype live video with a pre-recorded presentation.

Slides from presentation and Source Paper Citations in text format

Now, background info to get you up to speed on the state of amateur superpressure:

This type of balloon has the potential to stay in the air for extremely long times, much longer than the 3 days flight estimated for the White Star’s trans-atlantic ‘zero-pressure’ balloons. Continue reading

Winter is coming…

Hi folks! Winter is coming and that means balloon season is on the horizon! With that in mind, weekly meetings to discuss the juicy details of all things balloony have started.

We kicked off the first meeting this past Thursday (Sept. 8th) with a presentation by Dan Bowen. Topics discussed were the design & mathematics behind super pressure balloons, and the valve design used in Japan’s old incendiary, zero-pressure balloons.

This week’s meeting (Sept. 15th) will focus on defining tasks to accomplish this season in order to launch Speedball-1 and develop future super pressure balloons.

Altogether, expect to see lots of super pressure balloon experiments, a revision to Speedball-1’s envelope, and the launch of Speedball-1 this season!

Want to get in on the action? You still can! Meetings are open to everyone. Join us weekly on Thursdays, 8PM EST at LVL1 Hackerspace!