Introduction: Balloon Launch Toward SPACE!

Picture of Balloon Launch Toward SPACE!

We launched a balloon with cameras and GPS into the sky above Whitehorse. It floated +100,000 ft up into the stratosphere, popped, and returned to Earth safely via parachute. The goal was to see if we could actually send something toward space.

That was the easy part. Getting it back was a whole other adventure! (watch the video)

Step 1: Build the Payload

Picture of Build the Payload
Components:

The only significant modifications made to the styrofoam cooler were holes for cameras on the side (pointing toward the horizon) and underneath (pointing down).

Step 2: Launch Day

Picture of Launch Day
  1. Pick a Launch Site
    • Should be flat and far from any immediate obstacles
    • Ensure that you're far enough away from any nearby airports
  2. Double-check the Weather
    • Should be sunny (for filming) and minimal wind
  3. Alert the proper authorities
    • In the USA this includes the FAA; in Canada it includes the local airport and Environment Canada
  4. Configure the GPS
    • Important that it was on top of the payload and facing up
    • Test it!
    • Note that these aren't designed to work above a certain altitude so we lost coverage for quite a long time until the payload returned on its descent.
  5. Start filming
    • You've put in all this effort and the key to space hardware is redundancy. It's a good thing we used two cameras because on launch we accidentally turned one of them off!
    • Test it!
  6. Fill the balloon
    • Lots of research into volume of Helium and ascent rate. We used this tool but even with careful measurements/calculations, in the end our predictions were quite off. Luckily, though, it all worked out.
    • Took several hands to fill and tighten the balloon appropriately.
    • Worth using some counter weights to ensure it doesn't take off prematurely.

Step 3: 3..2..1..Lift-off!

Picture of 3..2..1..Lift-off!

Our balloon floated high into the sky, reaching altitudes roughly 4x a commercial airliner. The higher it went, the lower the external pressure, the more the balloon expanded...until...eventually it popped, the parachute deployed and it floated safely back to Earth.

Step 4: Recovery

Picture of Recovery

Launching it was the easy part. Getting it back was a whole other adventure! (watch the video)

Step 5: Contest

Picture of Contest

While our goal was to get the balloon off the ground, we used the opportunity to launch a contest to help community members get their own ideas off the ground too. 80+ ideas were submitted for projects that would-be inventors had always dreamed might one day exist and after 1000+ votes the winning entry earned a free flight courtesy of Air North.

Comments

Benji1324 (author)2015-11-01

i do

aht_007 (author)2015-08-28

by the way do you know any way to land it where you want it?(and avoid using helicopter ;))

YuKonstruct (author)aht_0072015-08-30

What about a drone? If you launch in a more populated area, you might be able to drive a lot closer!

aht_007 (author)2015-08-28

what an awesome instructable:D

YuKonstruct (author)aht_0072015-08-30

Thx!

awall99 (author)2015-08-28

I wanted to do it, but I have no Helicopter ;)

YuKonstruct (author)awall992015-08-30

What about a drone? If you launch in a more populated area, you might be able to drive a lot closer!

zaphodd42 (author)2015-08-26

Those mountains make for probably one of the best space balloon photos I have ever seen! Well done!

YuKonstruct (author)zaphodd422015-08-30

Lucked out with that view, eh? (above Juneau, Alaska)

MiebakaI (author)2015-08-26

now thats on matured instructable

instructible01 (author)2015-08-26

ok, so how did you track it for recovery when it comes down? getting a remote feed from the GPS seems to be the rub.

Great question. SPOT Tracking (https://www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=111) automatically transmits its GPS location every 10 minutes for up to 24 hours to a webpage which you can monitor remotely. So we were able to follow its movement for the first part of the ascent (transmission cuts off above 21,300 feet) and the final stage of its descent (below that same threshold).

Thank you! I have wanted to do this for some time but the relocation process seemed so hit or miss that I hadn't done it.

rikkebobbie007 (author)2015-08-25

Sure just let me get my helicopter right after I feed my tiger. LOL good build btw.

Ha! We were quite fortunate in having the company donate *most* of their flight time for the cause. We had to pay full price for the tiger though... ;)

jjdebenedictis (author)2015-08-25

Ooh, aah, that top shot is gorgeous!

It was such a thrill to see it for the first time!

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Bio: YuKonstruct is a non-profit society which provides an enthusiastic community of makers and entrepreneurs affordable access to space, equipment and knowledge. This community serves to ... More »
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