×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Brooklyn Father And Son Launch Homemade Spacecraft

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the treehouse-not-so-cool-now dept.

Earth 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.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

243 comments

One reason why it won't be in the press... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33779024)

No 8 year old kids stuck in the craft after launch.

Re:One reason why it won't be in the press... (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779148)

The other reasons it won't be in the press: It didn't make it to space and it seems like everyone else is doing it too. Yeah, its a nice accomplishment, yeah, they should be proud of it but its not unique in the least, it seems like the past year everyone has been doing essentially what they have done.

Re:One reason why it won't be in the press... (1, Insightful)

dwillden (521345) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779894)

Isn't this at least the third time /. has had an article about somebody who has stuck a camera to a weather balloon? What exactly is newsworthy about this?

Cool! (4, Funny)

raddan (519638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779044)

This is a very clever use of an iPhone. I would love to see this one used as a yearlong high school science project. The ROI on materials is incredible here.

Re:Cool! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33779418)

Your post is a very lame attempt at karma whoring. How about you shut the fuck up, and try to come up with some originality next time, ok?

Re:Cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33779800)

Your post is a very lame attempt at karma whoring. How about you shut the fuck up, and try to come up with some originality next time, ok?

Citation needed.

Re:Cool! (0, Offtopic)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779876)

I could reply with some clever and ironic counter-point for "+1 funny"s, but sadly my self-referential humor would likely go unnoticed or unappreciated and my karma whoring would end up as being negative.

So I won't say anything at all.

Oh . . . dammit.

Is there an app for that? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33779050)

Is there an app for that?

Re:Is there an app for that? (3, Funny)

AigariusDebian (721386) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779440)

There is one on n900 - it measures how high can you throw you n900 and how high is the drop, using the timer and accelerometer.

19 miles isn't "space" (5, Informative)

stjobe (78285) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779058)

19 miles is still in the stratosphere.

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (-1)

Afforess (1310263) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779092)

There is no clear "line" where the Earth's atmosphere ends and Space begins. I'd agree, 19 miles is still roughly in the upper atmosphere, but it's still pretty high.

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (4, Insightful)

InfiniteWisdom (530090) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779206)

It's not even a matter of trying to draw a fuzzy boundary. This was a balloon, with no propulsion. By its very nature there's no way it can go above the atmosphere regardless of how you define the boundary of space.

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (3, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779750)

But its 19 mile ascent showed the plucky determination of the American family unit, and as such it may as well have reached the moon! That's what really counts here, and it's important that people are told about this feat so they feel better about things.

Meanwhile, the Chinese are sending an actual spacecraft to the moon. But, whatever... .

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779792)

Perhaps like a balloon held deep under the surface of a pool... as it flew towards the edge of the atmosphere the momentum carried it *PLOOP!* over the top before gravity brought it back down.

Yo I'm just kidding man, relax. ;)

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (5, Informative)

mcornelius (1007881) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779212)

Actually, there is. It's called the Kármán line, and it's 62 miles or 100 kilometers.

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779356)

Actually, there is. It's called the Kármán line, and it's 62 miles or 100 kilometers.

Hey, I just pulled out my trusty Celestron - I don't see it. Did they mark it with anything?

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779512)

This is essentially a bureaurcratic definition. 100 km serves as a convenient line for dividing air travelers from astronauts, but there is no physical change in the atmosphere at that point. It is just an arbitrary line in the sky.

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33779584)

This is essentially a bureaurcratic definition. 100 km serves as a convenient line for dividing air travelers from astronauts, but there is no physical change in the atmosphere at that point. It is just an arbitrary line in the sky.

It's not arbitrary, it's a practical definition. At 100km in an aircraft, you need to fly at orbital velocities just to stay aloft, so effectively you need a spacecraft instead.

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (3, Informative)

mcornelius (1007881) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779694)

That's not the bureaucratic definition. That's a practical definition. (The bureaucratic definition is either 50 miles or 76 miles , depending on whether you're coming or going. (No, I'm not kidding; NASA calls it spaceflight once you get above 50 miles, but reëntry (end of spaceflight) occurs when descending to 76 miles.) You seriously misunderestimate the stupidity and omnipresence of the bureaucratic mentality if you think they could adopt anything so practical a definition as the approximate boundary where ends most atmospheric drag.)

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (1)

ehud42 (314607) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779216)

There is no clear "line" where the Earth's atmosphere ends and Space begins.

If an person must reach an altitude 62 miles to be considered an astronaut [wikipedia.org] , that would be where I would draw the line.

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (3, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779352)

19 miles (30 km, 100000 ft) is not in the upper atmosphere. It's in the stratosphere, which is considered part of the lower atmosphere along with the troposphere.
For comparison, the SR-71 cruised at 85000 ft, and the International Space Station is at ~350 km, and that's still considered well inside the atmosphere.

While it's impossible to say where space begins, I think a minimum criterion is to reach low earth orbit, or at least 160 km. This wasn't even a fifth of the way.

Yes, it's impressive to get a home made balloon up to more than three times the height of Chomolungma, but you do these guys a disservice by comparing it to space.

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779922)

I think the minimum requirement is when orbital mechanics starts becoming more influential than aerodynamic lift when managing altitude. Which I think is near ~100km.

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (1)

Nehmo (757404) | more than 3 years ago | (#33780038)

I'm afraid this thread is an example of how sensational wording by the submitter caused useless commentary. If the original post could have been more accurate and omitted the word "space", the discussion would have been approving and inquiring. As it is, we're dealing in semantics, and we'rt indirectly critical of the boastfulness.

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (5, Informative)

Lobachevsky (465666) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779852)

The Karman line is the defined boundary for space. Your claim that "there is no clear 'line' ..." can applied to most anything, including boundaries between land and sea.

There is no clear line, or particular grain of sand, that divides land from sea. There is a wetness gradient, where you go from completely dry, to moist sand, to ever more moist sand, to fairly wet sand, to very wet sand, to sand with frothy puddles, to turbid water, ankle high water, knee high water... you get the drift.

Everything in nature lacks a clear boundary - due to planck's constant and such. All you can say is, with error bars, what the boundary is. We know the coastal boundaries of nations, within +/- 25m error. Similarly, the Kamran line is a decent boundary for when space stars from the Earth's surface. Is it exact to the millimeter? No, doesn't have to be. But the property is that buoyant crafts (bouyant due to density or due to propulsion with wings) cannot exist at the Kamran line. Just as the coastal boundaries of nations, while not defining the exact grain of sand land stops and sea begins, generally define the point at which you're dry or wet, within +/- 25m.

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779278)

When the atmosphere gets thin enough it's "space"; 19 miles is stretching the definition a bit, but people of good faith can disagree on where that is. The WPIX article saying they sent into "into orbit" is of course dead wrong. It wasn't even a suborbital ballistic flight (like Alan Shepard's first).

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33779314)

> 19 miles is still in the stratosphere.

19 miles is still in the 19th century.

> nearly 19 miles (around 100,000 feet)

How considerate of yours, Adair. Care to convert it to thumbs, too? Or any other human parts?

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33779944)

It's about 65000 penises. Well, for me it's 65000, probably a lot more for you.

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (2, Insightful)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779344)

Actually, my childhood definition of "reaching space" was reaching escape velocity.

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (3, Interesting)

u17 (1730558) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:19 miles isn't "space" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33779508)

Actually, my childhood definition of "reaching space" was reaching escape velocity.

Which this balloon did not and could not have done. This is an outer space FAIL and you're an irrelevant drivel WIN.

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33779530)

Even if you're traveling from two miles up directly towards the ground?

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779644)

So hubble isn't in space? They really should give it a different name...

Re:19 miles isn't "space", but 347 miles is (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33779956)

Hubbles Orbital height is 559 km (347 mi) according to the all-knowing, never-to-be-doubted source of knowledge called Wikipedia

Re:19 miles isn't "space", but 347 miles is (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#33780196)

So what?

It has never reached escape veolocity, so by the definition I was responding to isn't in space.

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33780014)

hubble orbit is around 300 miles, not 20.

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (2, Insightful)

Auto_Lykos (1620681) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779360)

To be fair, atmospheric pressure at 19 miles is just a little under 1% of what is at sea level and about equivalent to the atmosphere of Mars.

But we've seen these kinds of cheap high altitude balloons cover by Slashdot for about a year now and every time it happens, it seems to be picked up as a "new" event.

The thing that is really annoying though is that they all are doing the same thing without any improvement. Next time I have to read this story, please say someone floated a model rocket with an M engine up to 20 miles and got it the golden suborbital height.

Re:19 miles isn't "space" (0, Flamebait)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#33780156)

19 miles is still in the stratosphere.

What, after the last six times this was pointed out in response to an article like this, you think repeating it will make the Slashdot editors finally get it?

This is not a spacecraft (3, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779060)

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.

Re:This is not a spacecraft (1, Informative)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779100)

Not to mention that we hear about similar stories every three to four months now.

This isn't news at all.

Re:This is not a spacecraft (4, Funny)

andy1307 (656570) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779648)

This isn't news at all.

Now if only the father had put the boy in the balloon....

Re:This is not a spacecraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33779234)

Not only that...
many, and I repeat MANY amateurs have already flown such "video recorded" high altitude balloon flights... we have discussed this on Slashdot previously plenty of times...
Whats truly remarkable is to downlink data and images making it truly like a spacecraft.
For example these students in Florida http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/florida/space/2010/04/14/experiment-off-the-ground-for-erau-students.html

Re:This is not a spacecraft (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:This is not a spacecraft (2)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779274)

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.

Yes there is. Attach rockets.

Re:This is not a spacecraft (5, Informative)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779558)

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.

Yes there is. Attach rockets.

What is so sad is that joke of a "spacecraft" this gets a strong mention in the press (and on Slashdot) while a real spacecraft... using a helium balloons as a 1st stage to get altitude is being used in a genuinely innovative fashion for something new with rocketry. See:

http://www.arcaspace.com/en/home.htm [arcaspace.com]

ARCA was successful with their last launch attempt.... which was launched yesterday. No video links yet, but the official page says that the launch attempt was successful. Yeah, attaching rockets to a balloon is something being considered.

FYI, ARCA (Aeronautics and Cosmonautics Romanian Association) is using this flight as a part of the testing regime in order to get TO THE MOON! They are a Google Lunar X-Prize team who is making some real progress and sending stuff up. They are also doing it on a budget of a mostly volunteer team in Eastern Europe. The main reason for using the balloons is not really the altitude issue, but that does simplify the rocket nozzle designs as it can be tuned to a near vacuum rather than having to deal with atmospheric flight (it makes a difference). Also, if something goes "boom", that explosion happens high up in the sky and over the Black Sea instead of over a populated area, making the issues of a launch pad much less of a problem.

Re:This is not a spacecraft (1)

bornclimber (1476961) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779382)

We have given plenty of limelight to launching phones etc and data collection post-landing. What we haven't discussed is using the high altitude balloon platform as an space systems design education tool... and downlinking data rather than just collecting it after landing... Check out these florida students... http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/florida/space/2010/04/14/experiment-off-the-ground-for-erau-students.html [news-journalonline.com]

Re:This is not a spacecraft (1)

pckl300 (1525891) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779432)

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.

It may not fit our anal definition of 'space', but it's an awesome effort by a couple of regular people to do something most people would never try.

Hang on (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33779086)

These two sent up an iPhone into the stratosphere which contains aircraft. They used GPS to track their device. They are obviously terrorists.

Re:Hang on (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779358)

These two sent up an iPhone into the stratosphere which contains aircraft. They used GPS to track their device. They are obviously terrorists.

Riiight, because a radio receiver is a threat to aircraft.

Re:Hang on (1)

dkuntz (220364) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779486)

Of course it is.. they were using the Plane Finder AR app! They were trying to steer the balloon with telekinetics towards a plane!

Re:Hang on (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33780138)

So, in fact, there really is NO reason to make us turn our cell phones off during takeoff and landing? I thought so.

This again? (0)

HelioWalton (1821492) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779140)

How many times are we going to see the "Camera put in styrofoam box and floated up with a weather balloon" story. Is this one special because they threw an iPhone into the box too?

Tape in a Big Model Rocket (1)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779144)

I wonder how high this could fly if a big model rocket was added, so it started when the balloon burst?

Re:Tape in a Big Model Rocket (2, Interesting)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779196)

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....

Re:Tape in a Big Model Rocket (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779626)

You could use either a larger balloon or more of them to carry a more significant rocket up there

This is news how? (3, Informative)

Onomang (1822906) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779150)

Nearly the same exact thing was done over a year ago for a budget of only $150 by college students from MIT.
http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/09/the-150-space-camera-mit-students-beat-nasa-on-beer-money-budget/ [wired.com]

How is this different from... (3, Informative)

garompeta (1068578) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779160)

From this: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/digitalcameras/mit-students-snap-space-photos-of-the-earth-with-40-canon-a470/1805 [zdnet.com]
And this?: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1260323/British-aerospace-enthusiast-takes-NASA-style-photographs-using-helium-balloon-pocket-camera.html [dailymail.co.uk]

Seriously, are we going to be calling it spacecraft? What is it going to be next? The Flip based UFO?
pleaaaseee.... gimme a break...

not actually a 'space craft' (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779180)

As others have already pointed out you have to be at least 60 miles up to be in outer space so this wasn't a true space craft. It probably did get high enough to see the curvature of the earth and a black (or at least violet) sky. Aircraft with air breathing engines have gotten up this high so there is still atmosphere up this high. Maybe someday someone will try attaching a large model rocket similarly equipped to a balloon that will ignite at 100K ft. Something like that might get into space. (This has been done in the past with sounding rockets).

Feeling of déjà vu... (2, Insightful)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779222)

I remember many similar stories already making the headlines here. I don't want to downplay their achievement, it's cool, but it's not really new or exciting anymore for anyone but them. I was hoping a real heavier-than-air craft, not another weather balloon.

Never! (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779248)

Sigh! You can never reach space in a balloon. Something that floats in the atmosphere cannot rise above the atmosphere. It's as ridiculous as thinking you can rise above the surface of the water in a submarine. This thing doesn't even get a third of the way to space.

Orbit (1)

Here be giant clams (1658299) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779256)

"A Brooklyn father and his 7-year-old son made a homemade spacecraft that traveled into orbit -- and they have video to prove it." Orbit, really? Cool! Somebody contact NASA/ESA/FKA and tell them that you can now orbit the Earth while only travel 30 miles!

Re:Orbit (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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?

Isn't this (2, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779342)

Isn't this some sort of aid to terrorists? Combined with the Plane Finder AR app, oooooo spooky. They should ban helium.

Another reason you won't see this in the press (2, Funny)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779424)

Because the craft made it so high and the fact that they put an Iphone inside it now becomes a threat to our spy staelites (read"we may not be able to spy on our own citizens")and the NSA has deemed it a security threat and removed the story from most major news outlets. Sheesh this country's gone to hell.

If slashdot ever allows article moderation (4, Insightful)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779442)

If slashdot ever allows real article moderation (and not that firehose abortion), in addition to 'flamebait' and 'troll', can we have a '-1, pedant bait' article? Seriously, at the time of this comment, of 35 articles, at least half are arguing over whether or not this is truly a spacecraft. It's really easy to shit on others from the safety of your parents' basement. Whether it has been done before is also irrelevant. This father and son is doing something. There's too many complainers to call someone else out specifically, but what have you people done lately? I don't claim to have done anything interesting of late, but I also am not shitting on what others have done.

Re:If slashdot ever allows article moderation (3, Insightful)

BitHive (578094) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779476)

People are mostly objecting to the headline, not 'shitting on what others have done', unless you're referring to sensationalizing this story.

Re:If slashdot ever allows article moderation (1)

sirrunsalot (1575073) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779554)

Can I get an Amen?! Let's see... next to articles about iPhone apps, data centers, and frickin' laser beams, this article was a lot more fresh and inspiring whether or not the concept is new at all and whether or not a reporter knows what altitude qualifies as 'space.' This sort of project is exactly what drove me into engineering in the first place, and the pedantry of academia is why I now hate it. So thanks, Luke and Max, for reminding me why I'm here!

Re:If slashdot ever allows article moderation (1)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779592)

If slashdot ever allows real article moderation (and not that firehose abortion)

Slashdot staff consists of the "editors". Real article moderation would make it more difficult for the "editors" to remain in denial that they are failures as editors. Therefore Slashdot staff are unlikely to implement real article moderation.

in addition to 'flamebait' and 'troll', can we have a '-1, pedant bait' article?

That'd just be another form of trolling.

I don't claim to have done anything interesting of late, but I also am not shitting on what others have done.

I'm not seeing much of that. As another person pointed out, most of those comments disputing the summary are about its accuracy. Nineteen miles is not space, that's just a fact. This balloon is an aircraft, not a spacecraft and that's just a fact. Basic facts like these that directly relate to the core of the story are exactly what an editor is supposed to get right. The Slashdot "editors" have failed miserably to do their jobs, yet again. That's the only thing anyone is shitting on and it's a worthy target for some fecal matter.

It's not really pedantry when you expect paid professionals (such as Slashdot "editors") to perform at least a mediocre job. If they finally achieve mediocrity it might even make sense to discuss whether it's reasonable to expect excellence.

Re:If slashdot ever allows article moderation (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779652)

There are plenty of comments that are filled with contempt "this joke of a 'spacecraft'". I think a lot of it is jealousy.

Re:If slashdot ever allows article moderation (4, Insightful)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779740)

There are plenty of comments that are filled with contempt "this joke of a 'spacecraft'". I think a lot of it is jealousy.

This. Jealous of jocks for getting the hot chicks, jealous of musicians for being able to tap out a beat, jealous of MBAs for making lots of money, jealous for real nerds for getting out and doing something.

Re:If slashdot ever allows article moderation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33779738)

I saw "flamebait" and "troll" in your post so many times I was really torn which moderation to use.

Re:If slashdot ever allows article moderation (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779754)

It's pedantry when the masses who comment (including myself) comment on the meta-issues rather than on the actual achievements of this father and son.

Re:If slashdot ever allows article moderation (1)

nloop (665733) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779972)

I agree! Good for them for doing something! Every time someone launches a weather balloon with a camera we should have it on slashdot! I for one could use a weekly uplifting story about the inane.

Re:If slashdot ever allows article moderation (4, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33780076)

I think it is one thing to accomplish an interesting, even astonishing deed, it's a very thing to misrepresent the accomplishment as something greater than what it is. We have definitions of where space begins, and they didn't reach that. Balloons are also useless vehicles in space, so that should be another indication.

Has anyone used one as a launch platform? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33779448)

I always thought about using a balloon as a way to launch a rocket. It might need several balloons linked to provide an open space for the rocket to clear the balloons or some way to burst the balloon seconds before the rocket fired. The point is it gets you a 90,000 to a 100,000 foot extra boost and the gravity will be much lower so a hybrid hobbyist rocket would have a chance at gaining some real altitude and at least achieve a temporary orbit for very little money.

Help save a film from corporate American. Join the fight at:

http://www.fftheuntoldstory.com/savefreakyflickermovie.html

Not a shameless promotion I don't even reveal my name I just want my film back. Check out the main link for more info. Bug the media and prove we can fight back!

http://www.fftheuntoldstory.com/

Epic fail in article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33779534)

They recognized that converting miles to feet was hard enough that they had to do it FOR you, but didn't bother to include metric.

I think we here at Slashdot should create a set of objective standards for summaries and such. That could really help things. I propose a rule that all units are in metric, and only metric, in the summaries. As a person born and raised in Nebraska, I think AS is part of the reason we're so far behind the japanese in engineering. I buy foreign because I don't have faith in the competence of people raised in an educational system that gives even a mite (about 1/63 of the weight of a King Henry the 3 1/2's big toe), of respect or coverage to such a pathetic measurement system. I have been frustrated and confused by AS since kindergarten, long before I knew that metric existed. I remember, for example asking my kindergarden teacher what happened at 0 degrees farenheit or why it was the way it was and her having no idea. I don't care where you're from, this is the internet. This is Earth. We use metric here.

Also, Helium is precious. They should have used hydrogen, imo. I really think we learned the wrong thing from some disasters in our history-- humans have the polymer and electric engineering expertise they'd need to make use of hydrogen instead of helium for such a project, and it would have been both more effective and more elementally conservative. Seriously, even rainforests can kind of grow back. Helium is basically just gone forever.

!Spacecraft (2, Informative)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779724)

1. It is a balloon. Not even the people who fly these for a living call them spacecraft. Says WikiP: "A spacecraft is a craft or machine designed for spaceflight." This thing popped when it rose above too much atmosphere. It was not designed for space. It was still in the stratosphere when it failed according to design.

2. The Karman line is the generally accepted edge of space at 100 km (62.5 mi). This is where an aircraft would have to fly so fast to get lift from the thin air that it would achieve orbital velocity in the attempt and so wings would be superfluous. The US has awarded astronaut wings to pilots flying above 50 miles. This doesn't change the objective criteria of the Karman line.

3. The CSXT GoFast achieved space altitude (72 miles) on May 17 2004 and is the only unmanned civilian craft to do so to date. It was designed for a flight profile carrying it into space and so was a spacecraft. As was SpaceShip One, the only civilian manned spacecraft to date.

4. Reaction Research Society hit 50 miles in 1996. Hunstville L5 passed this 19 mile mark, but was ballooned launched and so not entirely spacecraft.

5. No amateur spacecraft made from off the shelf or home made components has achieved even a 50K ft altitude according to Tripoli records. With Tripoli and the National Association of Rocketry's recent facing down ATFE over the definition of 'explosives', the FAA et al. is redefining amateur rocketry to include power up to 200,000 lb-ft sec and a concominant (and easily achieved with this power) 93 mile altitude. Most motors in this range are "experimental" ie. home made, but there are a few commercially available motors that can be staged and/or clustered for this power, the 152mm dia + 96" Loki Research P motor at 80kN-sec each being the largest you can currently put on your credit card. 11 of these will put you just under the FAA's proposed limit. 12, and you have to apply to NASA's office of space transportation for a permit. Expect an amateur spacecraft to make the flight, because now it's a matter of qualifying for the license and buying the parts.
 

Re:!Spacecraft (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 3 years ago | (#33780086)

2. The Karman line is the generally accepted edge of space at 100 km (62.5 mi). This is where an aircraft would have to fly so fast to get lift from the thin air that it would achieve orbital velocity in the attempt and so wings would be superfluous. The US has awarded astronaut wings to pilots flying above 50 miles. This doesn't change the objective criteria of the Karman line.

Oh, fucking bullshit. Someone in Europe arbitrarily chose 100 KM as a nice round number, then came up with a bullshit derivation after the fact to justify it. It's no more objective than 50 miles

        Brett

Lucky (1)

DreamArcher (1690064) | more than 3 years ago | (#33779864)

"they were lucky" What a douche. It would take Nasa a few billion dollars to get this lucky.

Re:Lucky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33780080)

NASA doesn't do a lot of this dinky stuff; no doubt they would spend way too much if they did try it for some reason. But not billions, douchehammer.

NOAA, OTOH, does exactly this, 100 times, every day of the year. They know what they're doing, as a result of a million past launches; these guys with no prior experience were completely successful -- they were indeed lucky.

Two ideas for further work (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 3 years ago | (#33780028)

1) Gyroscopically stabilize the camera platform so the footage doesn't look like it was shot by Michael Bay on the Vomit Comet.

2) Use the balloon to bring an ordinary Estes model rocket to 100,000+ feet and fire it. If the rocket could reach 2,000 feet if launched from the ground, how high would it go if launched at 1% atmospheric pressure? In other words, what limits a model rocket's altitude performance -- drag or gravity? How long would the launch rod need to be to stabilize the rocket during launch at 100,000 feet?

Re:Two ideas for further work (1)

blixel (158224) | more than 3 years ago | (#33780190)

Use the balloon to bring an ordinary Estes model rocket to 100,000+ feet and fire it.

Would an ordinary model rocket engine function at such high altitude? I don't know much about model rockets ... but I had a couple when I was a kid. I think model rocket engines require oxygen in order for the black powder to burn?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...