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Commercial Suborbital Balloon Flight Facility Takes Shape

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the up-up-and-away dept.

NASA 54

coondoggie writes "The Near Space Corporation this week said it would begin developing a $6.9 million phase of what it says is the first commercial high altitude balloon flight facility in the country. Commercial balloon flights to near space will be launched – though the company didn't say when — from the new facility in Tillamook, Oregon, including several of those reserved through the NASA's Flight Opportunities Program."

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"Suborbital"? (0)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204329)

Call me when you've got orbitial balloon flights.

Re:"Suborbital"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204343)

I can call you now. I can call you an idiot for not knowing how to spell.

Re:"Suborbital"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39210013)

Just because *you* don't understand the meaning of his made-up word, it doesn't mean he's wrong.

Re:"Suborbital"? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204373)

Want to meet up again tonight at the gloryhole? I'd love to suck your 2-incher again.

Re:"Suborbital"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39213745)

This is why we don't have nice things.

Re:"Suborbital"? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204423)

Does this [bigelowaerospace.com] count?

Re:"Suborbital"? (2)

NixieBunny (859050) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204427)

They already do that, although the latitude is rather high. I built a few pieces of a terahertz receiver for a balloon-borne radio telescope called the STO. It's designed to launch at McMurdo and circle Antarctica for a few weeks.

Re:"Suborbital"? (4, Informative)

Dan East (318230) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204605)

Orbiting isn't about elevation, it's about velocity. Even if a balloon made it to the altitude of the ISS, for example, it wouldn't be in orbit unless it was traveling at 17,000 MPH, which is the velocity required to orbit at that altitude and inclination.

Re:"Suborbital"? (0)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204615)

Whoosh.

Re:"Suborbital"? (2)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204771)

Orbiting isn't about elevation

Elevation and velocity are inversely proportional [execpc.com]

Re:"Suborbital"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39206965)

That's only if you are orbiting, and not floating like the baloon does

Re:"Suborbital"? (1)

NixieBunny (859050) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204935)

Except that balloons have lift, so they don't need to orbit as fast as the lumps of metal that we call satellites. The typical orbital period of a balloon is weeks, not hours.

Re:"Suborbital"? (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#39205487)

Balloons derive their lift from aerodynamic principles. They float in the atmosphere. By definition they do not go into space, nor do they orbit.

The world altitude record is 53km, just over half the distance to the Karman line (aka. The edge of space). At that altitude, an object would have to be travelling at 7.9 km/s (which is mach 26) to be in orbit. A balloon would be ripped to shreds at that speed. Of course, the fastest (manned) balloon was travelling at 394 km/h, but for such a balloon to be in orbit, it would have to be at an altitude of 30 million km, or roughly eighty times farther out than the moon.

Re:"Suborbital"? (1)

NixieBunny (859050) | about 2 years ago | (#39205651)

My point is that there's no point in putting a balloon in orbit in the sense of a satellite, which is why this entire thread is silly. Why even discuss it? Because we've nothing better to do.

Re:"Suborbital"? (2)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#39205259)

Call me when you've got orbitial balloon flights.

It was orbitching.

Re:"Suborbital"? (2)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#39205523)

Actually, there have been a fair number [wikipedia.org] of balloons (inflatable satellites) in orbit. The most famous are Echo 1 and Echo 2 in the 1960s

Re:"Suborbital"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39206813)

That was a mischievious comment.

Re:"Suborbital"? (1)

hey! (33014) | about 2 years ago | (#39210419)

Call me when you've got orbitial balloon flights.

Actually, it's been proposed, and it's not as silly as it sounds. The idea is to get high enough with a balloon that an ion engine could operate. Then you'd slowly gain speed and altitude over a course of weeks transitioning from buoyancy to momentum as the atmosphere further thinned. Obviously you couldn't lift much mass this way, so some have suggested powering the balloon with microwave transmissions, reducing the need to carry fuel.

Personally, I have doubts a system like this would ever be practical. Unless the thrusters work at a fairly low altitude you'd need an enormous balloon for a tiny payload. Cutting the bureaucracy and politics out of chemical rocket design might well yield lower prices per unit mass to orbit more. But it's a neat idea because it's at least physically plausible.

Yeah, right...this project is rolling right along (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204365)

If I only had a friggin' nickel for every twit with a Powerpoint presentation saying that they were "going to begin development" of some cool, radical technology. I now interpret this phrase as meaning someone is contemplating getting off the couch to make a Powerpoint of what they are thinking of doing.

Build the damned thing and fly it, or stop wasting my time with your empty words.

Re:Yeah, right...this project is rolling right alo (1)

DalDei (1032670) | about 2 years ago | (#39208653)

Are you living in the 80's or what. I don't bother getting off the couch to make a power-point ... I don't bother getting out BED for that.

First? (3, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204387)

Balloon flights have been suborbital since the Montgolfier brothers first launched in 1783. The only orbital "balloons" I'm aware of are Bigelow's Genesis modules. Commercial ballooning goes back to the late 1700s as well.

Re:First? (4, Funny)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204887)

Balloon flights have been suborbital since the Montgolfier brothers first launched in 1783.

SHHH! I'm selling my station wagon as a "Sub-Luminal Transporter" on Greg's List.

Re:First? (1)

findoutmoretoday (1475299) | about 2 years ago | (#39206941)

The only orbital "balloons" I'm aware of are Bigelow's Genesis modules.

Echo I, Echo II

What about the "Echo" Satellite? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39207037)

It was basically a mylar balloon that was launched by rocket and inflated after it reached orbit. A passive communications satellite; they bounced signals off of it.

Why Tillamook? (0)

bughunter (10093) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204409)

Yes, Tillamook OR as in Tillamook Cheddar.

Why here? They do have a lot of cheese, a lot of cows... and therefore a lot of methane. And the whole NW corner of OR has a lot of liberals and a lot of microbrew... which renders into even more gas.

Is there some connection?

Re:Why Tillamook? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204483)

In that case,TX must have been too dangerous, what with all the conservative gasbags and even more cows.

Re:Why Tillamook? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39205085)

I'm afraid your right about my beloved state. Off the top of my head, we've given the world Lyndon Johnson, Phil Graham (of the many architects of our current financial mess, he's one of the top dogs), George Bush and Rick Perry. We've got Alaska beat.

Re:Why Tillamook? (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 2 years ago | (#39205317)

Don't forget Tom Delay.

Re:Why Tillamook? (4, Informative)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204509)

The Tillamook airport also has on old blimp hangar that's big enough to inflate (at least partially) the balloon in. Also, being located on the west coast the prevailing winds will blow a balloon to the east and over the continent rather than over the ocean. Pictures here. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Why Tillamook? (1)

bughunter (10093) | more than 2 years ago | (#39205255)

OK - actually I've seen that. I've enjoyed visiting the Oregon Coast several times.

I knew there was probably a good reason, but was thinking more along the lines that it was just where the founders lived. Maybe my subconscious remembered the air museum but I ignored it in favor of making a methane and beer joke.

Sub's in orbit powered by balloons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204449)

Cool- so they have balloons that can lift subs into orbit now? That's awesome.

Time to remake an 80's classic. (3, Funny)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204453)

'99 Suborbital Balloons'

Re:Time to remake an 80's classic. (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 2 years ago | (#39206391)

Everyone's a Captain Picard!

Tillamook blimp hangar? (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204505)

Near Tillamook is the Tillamook Air Museum [tillamookair.com] , which is housed in a World War II blimp hangar. I wonder if the new facility is close by. The hangar might have been a useful facility but is (obviously) presently in use. Also the choice of Tillamook is interesting, with the previous construction of the blimp hangar. I wonder if the meteorological conditions in the area are good for lighter-than-air craft.

Re:Tillamook blimp hangar? (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204551)

I think the location had more to do with the fact that blimps were used for coastal patrolling during WW II so a blimp from Tillamook would have the range to patrol from the Canadian border to Northern California. It's usually somewhat windy there so I'm not sure it's the ideal place for lighter-than-air craft.

Re:Tillamook blimp hangar? (2)

vaccum pony (721932) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204653)

The winds come from the ocean and blow toward a largely unpopulated area. Sounds perfect for balloon launches.

Re:Tillamook blimp hangar? (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204877)

Sort of. The wind generally blows toward the Willamette Valley and Portland which is the most populated part of Oregon. Once you get east of there then yes, it's largely unpopulated.

Re:Tillamook blimp hangar? (1)

vaccum pony (721932) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204981)

Yeah, but who cares if a balloon lands an a bunch of hipster douchebags?* *kidding. I have hipster douchebag friends that live there.

Re:Tillamook blimp hangar? (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 2 years ago | (#39205333)

Well, I live in Salem but I'm too old to be a hipster douchebag. Now get off my lawn! :)

Re:Tillamook blimp hangar? (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | about 2 years ago | (#39205409)

Don't worry, they laughed at your joke before it became popular..

What a waste of helium (1)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204587)

Remember that it's a finite resource.

Re:What a waste of helium (3, Interesting)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204661)

I'd hope they'll recycle most of it. A small tank/pump would allow ascent/descent without spilling much. But NASA has piddled away a lot of helium [bloggingstocks.com] on the shuttle so you can't be too sure.

Re:What a waste of helium (1)

tunapez (1161697) | about 2 years ago | (#39205373)

Best! Blog Comment! Ever!
 
I recommend you read the first comment before citing that particular article in the future, tomhath.

Re:What a waste of helium (1)

NoKaOi (1415755) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204837)

Why not use hydrogen? Are there other reasons not use hydrogen other than the thing might go up in flames (honest question)? I'm assuming we know how to safely handle it on the ground, since it's been done with hydrogen powered cars. As long as there aren't humans aboard, what's the big deal if you loose some small percentage of flights? Also, isn't hydrogen less dense that helium?

Re:What a waste of helium (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#39206343)

Indeed, we should never use finite resources!

Re:What a waste of helium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39208859)

Well, we should *use* them, not *waste* them, idiot. I know you're a die-hard Space Nutter, and as such have tremendous difficulties with reality, but come ON.

Re:What a waste of helium (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#39211377)

So, my fellow oxygen-waster, who gets to decide whether someone is using or wasting resources? Because it is a matter of semantics in large part.

New data expected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204777)

Loading...

Helium cost vs hydrogen (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204799)

why not
1. sew your own baloon
2. build a hydrogen generator/solar collector
3. fill baloon
4. put extra weight and people in.
5. fly!

Don't tell me cause hydrogen is dangerous. gasoline is too.

!Near Space (1)

FrostedWheat (172733) | about 2 years ago | (#39206109)

No balloon has gotten higher than 53km. That's just half way there.

As a competitor (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#39206173)

I must admit to a bit of envy. The group I work with (JP Aerospace) has to travel about 250 miles from our workshop to launch balloons (from Sacramento, CA to Black Rock Desert in Nevada). This place can launch them from the same spot where they make them. And there's almost $7 million for some shiny new buildings. I bet the chairs will be nice.

Mont Blanc Pen Outlet (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39206331)

To avoid producing knockoffs, Mont Blanc Pen Sale [montblanc-pen.org] runs a series of boutiques in lots of nations. While there's a high probability of having an authentic item on ebay, professionals state that sale are filled with counterfeit pens. Today the title Mont Blanc pen [montblanc-pen.org] is synonymous for luxury products including obviously, exquisite hands crafted pens however it has not been this way. The thing is, within their very early years they maintained as Simplo Larger Mont Blanc Pen Outlet [montblanc-pen.org] Company. Small businesses resides in Hamburg Germany that made rather simply crafted fountain pens, by present day standards. Their Early Years to start with up Enterprise The organization in those days in early 1900s was possessed by three pen mont blanc [pen-mont-blanc.com] males, August Eberstein, Claus -Johannes Voss and Alfred Nehemias. In those days, being that they are a comparatively new start up enterprise, the organization made and offered just one pen model which was their Rouge Et Noir which was released in 1909. Their Name Switch to Mont Blanc Pen Online [montblanc-pen.org] Right after in 1910, new was created and released which pen transported the title Mont Blanc Pen Store [montblanc-pen.org] . We're not really sure why although not lengthy after that the males who went the organization made the decision to evolve that title for their company and therefore, the organization started to become referred to as Mont Blanc pens.

Near Space Corporation? (1)

Quantum_Infinity (2038086) | about 2 years ago | (#39206683)

Near Space Corporation? That's a terrible name for a company. Though it may be apt for what they do and their honesty is commendable but it also gives away what they cannot do - "Oh we actually wanna be Space Corporation but we have neither the money/technology nor balls to do it, so we're just gonna be content with Near Earth Corporation"

What Goes Up... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39211825)

Must come down, as the saying goes. So just what happens to a "several thousand kilogram" payload when the balloon envelope bursts (and it will). Even descending at 3 m/s under a parachute, it's going cause a lot of damage to anything it lands on (tree, house, car, you).

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