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Earth Iphone Space Science Build

Brooklyn Father And Son Launch Homemade Spacecraft 243

Adair writes "A father and son team from Brooklyn successfully launched a homemade spacecraft nearly 19 miles (around 100,000 feet) above the Earth's surface. The craft was a 19-inch helium-filled weather balloon attached to a Styrofoam capsule that housed an HD video camera and an iPhone. The camera recorded video of its ascent into the stratosphere, its apogee where the balloon reached its breaking point, and its descent back to earth. They rigged a parachute to the capsule to aid in its return to Earth, and the iPhone broadcast its GPS coordinates so they could track it down. The craft landed a mere 30 miles from its launch point in Newburgh, NY, due to a quick ascent and two differing wind patterns. The pair spent eight months researching and test-flying the craft before launching it in August. Columbia University Professor of Astronomy Marcel Aguera said, 'They were very good but also very lucky.'"
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Brooklyn Father And Son Launch Homemade Spacecraft

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  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @05:56PM (#33779196) Homepage Journal
    that 19 inch helium ballon doesn't have much of a payload, so you can't stick a big model rocket in there.

    You *could* possibly stick a small model rocket, and have the iPhone fire it when they reach high enough an altitude. A small rocket with 5 seconds of thrust maybe.

    You could even modify the shape of the exhaust nozzle for optimum vacuum performance since there's almost air there .

    while that would be cool, it's still nowhere near enough to actually get it in space....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 03, 2010 @06:05PM (#33779270)

    Seriously, it only goes up 30km. And there is no improvement that can possibly be made to a helium balloon that can make it actually go any higher than Earth's atmosphere. It's a good accomplishment but calling it a spacecraft is a bit disingenuous.

    I'd hardly say theres no room for improvement - Personally I'm waiting to see a He balloon lifter (maybe 3-4 of them spread out) with a stabilized platform holding a model rocket.

  • by u17 ( 1730558 ) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @06:35PM (#33779500)
    It's entirely possible to go to space without reaching escape velocity. You will get there as long as you're moving up and your thrust is greater or equal to the force of gravity. Escape velocity only concerns something moving up without any thrust at all. Of course, we can't build anything that will maintain thrust equal to the force of gravity for long enough, but if we could, we could go to space... at a snail's pace!
  • Re:Orbit (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 03, 2010 @06:56PM (#33779614)

    Actually, that's an interesting question. Has anyone done the calculations for the lowest altitude you could actually make an object - let's say an aerodynamically-shaped chunk of uranium or something else ultra-dense - orbit the earth at least once if you just got it moving fast enough in the right direction. I have a feeling it would be lower than the official edge of space, but how low? I suppose the answer probably depends a lot on whether or not you allow elliptical orbits that leave the atmosphere. For example, you might be able to allow something that starts out close to ground level if it's ok for it to take an elliptical orbit that starts out in the atmosphere, goes quickly out of the atmosphere, then gets really close to sea level on approximately the other side of the earth, then hits the ground somewhere past its original firing point (hopefully not making a messy hole in anyone). Anyone know if anyone has figured this out?

  • by cloricus ( 691063 ) on Sunday October 03, 2010 @09:39PM (#33780512)
    http://www.copenhagensuborbitals.com/ [copenhagen...bitals.com]

    These guys are doing some thing almost as cool though sticking to purely amateur ideals. Luckily for science loving people they've gotten a lot of press coverage. Unfortunately their latest launch failed on the pad, due to an issue with power, and they wont be able to attempt another test for six months odd. Still it is great to see people attempting to move past the generic rocket club stuff people have been doing pre-fab for 40 years.

    They definitely, along with some other examples, inspired me to push my friends to start doing serious engineering projects for fun. So far our list of things to attempt comes from any thing cool on TV that come with the stupid warning 'don't try this at home!'.
  • by FunkyELF ( 609131 ) on Monday October 04, 2010 @08:16AM (#33783260)

    Its hard to tell how high the craft actually is because of the use of the wide angle.
    When its tumbling around up high and the camera goes upside down you can see the curvature of the earth inverted. Pretty weird looking.
    In fact, on its way down where you can still make out trees and stuff, there seems to be a curvature.

    I'm not saying they shouldn't have used wide-angle, indeed they should have for something like this. Its just a little misleading.

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