How To BalloonSat
Flying through the atmosphere will allow you measure many aspects of the atmosphere and access the edge of space. From a balloon, you can investigate the ozone, study the sun, or even measure radiation through the atmosphere. Having launch capabilties will support your local scientists with existing research and will open more opportunities.
One of the most rewarding activities to provide is outreach! There are a wealth of studies showing the need for communities to engage in science, and BalloonSat is a great mechanism to do this. Outreach can be performed with many age groups. The ballooning community will fly at elementary, middle, and high schools as well as at public events. When flying from a school, it is possible to have payload development and testing in the classroom with the students, then move outside for the flight. Coordinating with the school leadership is necessary and recruiting the entire school is possible by having the activity as part of a field day, pep-rally, or fire drill.
UAH Space Hardware Club has flown simultaneously from multiple schools, providing an engaging experience for 1500 students simultaneously. Click here for more info!
Being over 100,000ft offers a unique chance to test elements of other systems, like spacecraft. Many embedded systems developers use BalloonSat as a platform to train and test for other flight options. CubeSat teams can practice collecting power from near-space and transmitting from above the atmosphere. Smaller future rocket payloads can prove tracking capabilities on the gentle balloon ride before being a critical system of a high-powered rocket.
High altitude ballooning is possible with many sizes of balloons, and many balloon sizes are available. A great supplier is Scientific Sales.
A size calculator for balloon sizing is available at HAB Hub. (HAB for High Altitude Balloon).
Gas and Filling
The gas is normally supplied by a commercial gas company. I have known Airgas to be fair in pricing and convenient delivery. Usually 200 cubic feet or 300 cubic feet in a K bottle is acceptable. Each balloon type will require different amounts of helium. These tanks cost an initial amount for the gas and a rental for the tank itself.
Decent control of a balloon is important for safe flight. A great option is a parachute 4ft to 6ft in diameter. Great parachutes are available by The RocketMan. These are made in the USA.
Depending on parachute design, parachutes can rotate during flight. This can cause failures like a reefed chute likes which leads to fast decent. Use a swivel between the parachute and first payload to allow the parachute to spin freely.
Communication equipment with the balloon aircraft is very important. It is important that the operator can maintain a communication link with the balloon throughout flight. The RadioBro team strongly suggests use of at least two tracking technologies. If the technologies can work independently of the operator, that's even better. Let's take a look at a few options that are good for the United States. For other countries, contact us!
The 900MHz tracker is a great place to perform paid research! Between 902 and 928 MHz (33cm), an operator can use the ISM radio license. This "Industrial, Scientific, Medical" license is easy to utilize as there is a open low-power license for everyone to use. Long range (150+ Miles) is possible with a 1 Watt 900MHz radio.
RadioBro provides a 900MHz 1 Watt tracker, 1/4 Watt tracker, and ground station options. Contact RadioBro for delivery times.
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