DIY Space Exploration

Hi guys, I heard about a guy here thinking about getting a payload into space on DIY terms.

Running with the idea, it turns out that commercial off-the-shelf satellite space will run you about 8 grand.

Moving away from rockets, the MAKE: team managed to use 'weather balloons' and helium to hit 109,000 feet. (

My idea/question in this.
If you can get a payload near space, what if your payload is a small rocket that fires at the peak height, could you drag something (kicking and screaming) into orbit?

Thoughts and discussion here, I'm really excited about this!

ParadoxDetected :)

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i belive its kinda illegal or should be they might think its a bomb ya know how paranoid and stupid the government can be if you succeed these guys might storm onto your lawn
kevinhannan8 years ago
That's what I love about Instructibles website; with great people like those below (and many more answering other q's) you never stop learning and it's fun! I know it's not my Q, but thanks guys for your time!
bananafred8 years ago
I hope you are one of those people where being told you can't motivates you because that is a really cool idea and I think you could do it.
kelseymh8 years ago
Kevin has some good and some misguided comments....

1) $8K for satellite payload seems far too low (Kevin's note about fuel costs is right on). Do you have a reference for that figure?

2) Earth's gravity is basically the same between ground and low-orbit (do the math on 62002 vs. 60002 miles). Launching an orbital rocket from a balloon at altitude will ned the same fuel and guidance systems as launching from the surface.

3) Building a suborbital or orbital rocket privately is not impossible. Launching it will require permits both locally and from the FAA (you really don't want to hit a plane with your missile). Those can be obtained, you just need to show that you have the right range safety systems and control.
Cubesats start at $7,500

Pongsat launches are free.
Wow. Those are both seriously cool, and stuff I knew nothing about. Thank you very much for the links, Kiteman!
De nada.

(I think)
Muchas gracias.
Launching from a balloon saves fuel because a large part of the fuel is burned lifting the rest of the fuel to that altitude.

A lot of the data for the research on the Van Allen belts was gathered via "rockoon".

AFIAK, the USAF has missiles intended to take down satellites that are launched from high-altitude aircraft for the same reason.

There are some apparently serious people working on rockoons today.
That might be true for a suborbital missile, as you describe, but I have a hard time believing it's true for orbital missions. The fuel cost is in delta-V -- getting the beast up to 5 km/s (or 7 km/s for lunar or beyond). It doesn't matter whether you launch from ground or from a 30 km balloon. You're starting from rest and need to get up to orbital speed. There are definitely issues with the extra friction (and hence extra fuel) needed to push through the dense lower atmosphere. So I can believe that for small sounding rockets, you can get a non-trivial gain in payload vs. fuel from a rockoon or high-altitude airbreather. But I don't believe that gain scales with mission size.
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