Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

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!

Company To Balloon Tourists To the Edge of Space For $75,000

timothy posted about 9 months ago | from the why-can't-they-balloon-them-all? dept.

Space 104

astroengine writes "If the thought of a rocket ride to space — or the $250,000 price tag to get there — leaves you feeling queasy, an Arizona firm thinks it has a gentler, less expensive alternative. World View, an offshoot of privately owned Paragon Space Development Corp., is developing a balloon-launched, near-space (30 kilometers) ride for $75,000 — less than one-third the current cost to fly on Virgin Galactic's suborbital SpaceShipTwo. "It really is very gentle. You can be up at altitude for hours, for days for research if you need to be... I think we have the opportunity to give a really, really incredible experience to people — and for a lot less than most of what's out on the market right now," project co-founder and Paragon president Jane Poynter told Discovery News."

cancel ×

104 comments

Hmmm.... (0)

Jetrel (514839) | about 9 months ago | (#45199907)

Nice idea but: New cancer clusters starting in. 3...2...1

http://www.epa.gov/radtown/cosmic.html [epa.gov]

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

geogob (569250) | about 9 months ago | (#45200093)

An why would this be more a problem for flights in a stratospheric balloon than for any other kind of manned "spaceflight" flight? Do we see a "cancer cluster" in this population?

But let me quote your link : "...and the risks from cosmic radiation do not warrant changing your travel plans to reduce your exposure."

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 9 months ago | (#45203267)

...and for another $75,000, you can get a safe ride down again....

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 9 months ago | (#45206437)

look it up, certainly space flight yields higher cancer incidence rate. however, we're only talking of 18 miles up with this article, which is not space or even halfway to space.

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 9 months ago | (#45207627)

It's quite a bit more than half way to space, if you're going atmospheric depth by mass...

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 9 months ago | (#45219647)

No, we're talking about pure altitude here. If we're talking about depth by mass outer space would begin under the earth's crust in the outer mantle somewhere.

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 9 months ago | (#45219825)

This thread is about cancer clusters, so we're talking about shielding depth. This correlates with mass, not distance.

Start point matters when you're talking about "half way". The start point for an organism which requires roughly 15-20 kPa of oxygen, a ready supply of liquid water, and is incapable of moving easily through solid rock is probably somewhat closer to mean sea level.

Re:Hmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45220195)

This thread is about cancer clusters, so we're talking about shielding depth. This correlates with mass, not distance.

It's not really that simple. In terms of mass, the atmosphere at sea level is worth about 90 centimeters of lead. The problem is, there's some radiation that will pass through large amounts of matter with barely any interaction. Consider neutrino's for example. Of course, the fact that neutrinos will pass through the atmosphere or even through the entire planet with barely any interaction. It doesn't really matter though, because, if it passes through the shielding easily, it will pass through a person without damage. But Neutrinos are stable particles and can travel the length of the universe without changing. Other kind of particlate radiation are a different story. If a high energy particle is stopped by shielding, it doesn't just stop. The energy is turned into a flood of other particles. This is called Bremmstrahlung or Braking Radiation. Some of those generated particles will likewise be stoppd by the rest of the shielding, but others will pass through solid matter with an ease similar to that of nuetrinos. The problem is, they tend not to be stable like neutrinos and have very short half-lives. When they break down, they may break down into all kinds of other particles, some of which will interact with other matter. So, basically, high energy particles can hit shielding, then turn into a burst of radiation that ghosts through the shielding, then transforms back into harmful radiation. With sufficient distance, the chance of any low-interacting particles with short half-lives surviving is very slim, and their byproducts will be absorbed. Without sufficient distance, those particles will make it through. So, despite having the same mass, 90 centimeters of lead won't protect from radiation as well as 50 kilometers of atmosphere.

Perhaps... (4, Funny)

mschaffer (97223) | about 9 months ago | (#45200365)

Perhaps some sort of lead zeppelin would be advised?

Re:Perhaps... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45201227)

Radiation exposure would be greatly reduced, not only from the shielding, but also dramatically lower flight times. This idea is a win-win.

Re:Perhaps... (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 9 months ago | (#45206477)

wrong, secondary radiation would increase. shielding is done with low atomic number elements for this reason. Sealed lead is nice to have inside the walls of your fallout shelter for blocking gammas, but in space it's protons and heavier lumps of baryons that ruin your day. the showers of all kinds of cool stuff they make when they hit a heavy nucleus are a wonder to behold (yeah, in the visualization software of reconstruction collision from detector output files)

30Km isn't space (3, Insightful)

rossdee (243626) | about 9 months ago | (#45199931)

30Km isn't space, its only about 1/3 of the way there
I think the definition of space starts at about 100Km
you certainly couldnt achieve orbit at 30Km, you'd burn up

Re:30Km isn't space (1, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | about 9 months ago | (#45200103)

Indeed. If I have money to burn, I wouldn't burn it by getting part-of-the-way to space. That's the space-equivalent of going out to meet the prettiest gal and take her home, but ending up at the strip club and leaving with frustration.

Re:30Km isn't space (2)

master_kaos (1027308) | about 9 months ago | (#45200269)

hey come on this is slashdot, no one here knows a girl analogy, you need a car one
It would be like sitting in a Lamborghini Reventon at a car show, not able to turn it on or even push any buttons.

Re:30Km isn't space (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45200441)

hey come on this is slashdot, no one here knows a girl analogy, you need a car one
It would be like sitting in a Lamborghini Reventon at a car show, not able to turn it on or even push any buttons.

It would be like paying $75,000 to sit 30% closer to the Lamborghini than everyone else. You still wouldn't be getting into the car.

Re:30Km isn't space (1)

AsmCoder8088 (745645) | about 9 months ago | (#45207497)

It would be like paying $75,000 to sit 30% closer to the Lamborghini than everyone else.

Wrong.

At 30km altitude, you are much more than 30% closer to space than everyone else.

Even if everyone were at the summit of Mt. Everest, which is at 8.8km, you would still be 3.4 times (240%) higher up than they are.

Re:30Km isn't space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45210541)

It would be like paying $75,000 to sit 30% closer to the Lamborghini than everyone else.

Wrong.

At 30km altitude, you are much more than 30% closer to space than everyone else.

Sounds like someone's bitter about the 75 large they wasted at the car show.

Re:30Km isn't space (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 9 months ago | (#45201769)

30km looks cool as hell.. or heaven.

that's why. or wait in line for more expensive, shorter rides.

Re:30Km isn't space (1)

TWX (665546) | about 9 months ago | (#45201805)

30km looks cool as hell.. or heaven.

Not for that kind of money...

Re:30Km isn't space (1)

VernonNemitz (581327) | about 9 months ago | (#45202043)

But they might be able to get closer if they used 2 balloons, in an unusual way, with an unusual gondola design. The first balloon they fill with helium at the ground, and it takes you pretty high, well above most of the oxygen in the atmosphere. The gondola has a section full of hydrogen-storage tanks. At altitude, the second balloon is deployed and starts filling with hydrogen from those tanks. The first balloon's helium can be pumped into those same tanks, as each is emptied of hydrogen. The first balloon and the tank-holding gondola section can now be detached and allowed to fall; a parachute would deploy so that the helium can be recovered for another flight. Meanwhile, any hydrogen balloon has better lifting capacity than the same-size helium balloon, and since this balloon deployed at high altitude, there is no significant fire hazard. And with the gondola now reduced significantly in weight, the appropriate pun regarding the maximum altitude is, "The sky's the limit".

Re:30Km isn't space (2)

Dr. Zim (21278) | about 9 months ago | (#45202321)

I worked on commercial blimps (Bud One, Airship Shamu, MetLife) for several years and you're not the first person to think about re-compressing helium. The equipment needed to compress helium back into a tank would add more weight than practical.

Re:30Km isn't space (1)

FlopEJoe (784551) | about 9 months ago | (#45204211)

Wait a minute! Suppose two swallows carried it together? Carrying it on a line?

Re:30Km isn't space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45207063)

african or european swallow?

Re:30Km isn't space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45220215)

I'm confused. What would be the advantage of switching to hydrogen at altitude? Why not just use hydrogen from the ground up? It can't be for concern over fire. In the incredibly unlikely chance the balloon catches fire, you just detach the balloon from the gondola and deploy your parachute.

YMMV (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | about 9 months ago | (#45212957)

I fail to see the increased value of higher ascent. I believe that the view difference would be indiscernible, except perhaps an improvement from the nearer view. The engineering difference between vehicles informs me that the more comfortable, low-G approach would open up the possibilities for some rather luxurious amenities for the cargo.
Similarly, I think I'd prefer a hang-glider descent from Terrapin Point to a barrel ride over the Falls. [wikipedia.org]

Re:YMMV (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 9 months ago | (#45219855)

Being in space typically inspires two images: freefall, and a view of the planet as a single sphere over which you're rapidly passing

No balloon is going to give you a sustained freefall experience, and the view won't begin to compare - at 30km the view is pretty dramatic, but you're still seeing a lot less than half the globe at a time - for scale if the earth were the size of a basketball (9 inches), then your 30km balloon is just under 3/64 of an inch from the surface. And since you're standing still instead of whizzing by at orbital speeds you don't even get to see much more of the Earth than your starting point.

So basically you're paying $75k for a nearly-black sky and a slightly more distant horizon. Interesting if you've got money to burn I suppose, but it has nothing to do with space.

Re:30Km isn't space (2)

czert (3156611) | about 9 months ago | (#45200273)

100 km is kind of an arbitrary number. I have a better definition, though: if you can get there in a baloon, it's not space.

Re:30Km isn't space (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 9 months ago | (#45200545)

I have a better definition: if somebody can hear you scream, it's not space.

Re:30Km isn't space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45200697)

if you can even scream, it's not space.

Re:30Km isn't space (2)

tgd (2822) | about 9 months ago | (#45200829)

if you can even scream, it's not space.

As far as I'm concerned, if Sandra Bullock isn't there in panties, its no longer space.

Re:30Km isn't space (5, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | about 9 months ago | (#45200665)

100km isn't exactly arbitrary [wikipedia.org] . It is the altitude where, in order for an aircraft to generate sufficient lift, it would have to be moving at orbital velocity.

Re:30Km isn't space (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 9 months ago | (#45201245)

Well then it's not space. Because in space you shouldn't be able to generate surface lift.

Re:30Km isn't space (2)

camperdave (969942) | about 9 months ago | (#45201787)

... in space you shouldn't be able to generate surface lift.

Why not? Space is not a perfect vacuum. Even deep in the intergalactic void there are hydrogen atoms and a gravitational field. So, with a large enough wing, moving at a large enough velocity you can still generate lift.

Re:30Km isn't space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45206743)

From the Wikipedia article you claim as proof:

"The KÃrmÃn line thus is an arbitrary definition based on the following considerations:"

Re:30Km isn't space (1)

GameMaster (148118) | about 9 months ago | (#45200761)

While camperdave, below, has already pointed out that the 100km Karman Line isn't as arbitrary as you might think, I have to agree with you on the second part of your post. I've, also, always felt that, by definition, if a balloon is capable of getting you to a place then that place must still be considered to be in the atmosphere (and, thus, NOT in space).

fact versus marketing (1)

mschaffer (97223) | about 9 months ago | (#45200537)

It's the edge of space, so I can see them using marketing that touts the ride is "so exciting, you only need the edge."

Re:30Km isn't space (2)

dj245 (732906) | about 9 months ago | (#45200737)

30Km isn't space, its only about 1/3 of the way there I think the definition of space starts at about 100Km you certainly couldnt achieve orbit at 30Km, you'd burn up

Here are some photos from approximately 30km up- [natrium42.com] . The curvature of the earth is evident, and the sky is pretty black at that height. It might still be inside the atmosphere, but it is outside most of the atmosphere. The air pressure at 30km is less than 3% of sea level. Good enough for everyone? No. But it is good enough for a lot of people, and at a far lower price.

Re:30Km isn't space (2)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 9 months ago | (#45201223)

You can book a flight in a MiG-31 to 28km up for a third of the stated price. The stay at the altitude is way shorter, though.

Re:30Km isn't space (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 9 months ago | (#45204095)

You can book a flight in a MiG-31 to 28km up for a third of the stated price. The stay at the altitude is way shorter, though.

Seems kind of like the difference between a Mach-2 flight in a jet fighter and Concorde; in one case you're strapped in an ejection seat and wearing a pressure suit for ten minutes until it runs out of fuel, in the other you were free to walk around for two hours, eating caviar, and drinking champagne.

Re:30Km isn't space (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 9 months ago | (#45206049)

Well, duh, if you choose MiG-31, it will be a Mach-2 flight in a jet fighter. And, to be honest, I'd rather try that out than a Concorde flight. Besides, have you ever been inside a Concorde? The aisle is very narrow and everything is sort of cramped. It kind of actually feels worse than a cattle class A320. Not much walking around there.

Re:30Km isn't space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45200899)

Additionally, $75k is a little pricey for a single ride in a balloon. I would guess you could build a capable balloon for 2 or 3 times that amount (maybe less). For $75k, you should be able to charter a ride in a U2, which can get to a similar height.

Re:30Km isn't space (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | about 9 months ago | (#45201043)

And... You get to ride up in an enclosed pressure vessel... for hours... with whatever other "space" tourists pony up the cash. Hope they don't smell bad!

If it is a private ride that could be a bit better, but I don't think you get to ride up in an open gondola with an oxygen mask on. You get to ride up in an aluminum can with little portholes.

Oh the fun!

Re:30Km isn't space (2)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about 9 months ago | (#45200965)

Voyager 1 isn't in space yet.

Re:30Km isn't space (1)

Valdrax (32670) | about 9 months ago | (#45204307)

Voyager 1 isn't in space yet.

"Interstellar space," I hope you mean, and there's a lot of people who believe that it has at this point. [space.com]

Re:30Km isn't space (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 9 months ago | (#45201199)

Wrong. You could orbit with a lower speed vector based on buoyancy instead of relying on pure speed and thrust. So basically counteract gravity by simply floating and go a lot less than 17,000 MPH because of it.

Nothing to see here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45199933)

Sound like this just just a bunch of hot air.

Verbification (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45200067)

To balloon - yuk

Re:Verbification (1)

RussR42 (779993) | about 9 months ago | (#45200915)

You're a little late [etymonline.com] to start complaining now. It was already verbed by 1792.

The view would be spectacular ... (1)

Rambo Tribble (1273454) | about 9 months ago | (#45200089)

... but there's a certain economic gravity to the weightless experience.

Re:The view would be spectacular ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45200623)

... but there's a certain economic gravity to the weightless experience.

There would be no weightless experience up there. The gravity would be the same. Perhaps if you fell out of the balloon you might "feel" weightless while you fell, and perhaps after you hit the ground too.

Or were you just being clever with words? ;)

Re:The view would be spectacular ... (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 9 months ago | (#45201025)

Being weightless is the primary reason people want to go into space. Taking a balloon up there will give you an ok view, not quite as grand as being in a low orbit, but the normal gravity will turn people off.

Re:The view would be spectacular ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45220227)

So, when it's time to come down, drop the gondola.

Does it include a free fall experience? (1)

OzPeter (195038) | about 9 months ago | (#45200091)

And if so, do they provide the parachute????

We have a long way to go... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45200095)

Before we can safely fly a baloon that high

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/10/10/20903264-two-injured-in-dramatic-accident-at-hot-air-balloon-festival-in-new-mexico

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Luxor_hot_air_balloon_crash

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/pilot-dies-in-hot-air-balloon-accident-at-festival-outside-montreal-1.1406524

Re:We have a long way to go... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45220329)

Ok, the two crashes mentioned in the three articles you linked to were about hot air balloons. The second one caught fire, which had a lot to do with it being a balloon that uses combustion to rise, rather than a high altitude balloon which doesn't require fire. The fire started due to an accident with a mooring line which only happened because the ballon was close to the ground. The first one hit power lines. How these ground-level accidents have to do with flying a balloon "that high", I have no idea.

How much more does it cost... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45200113)

...to balloon them back to earth?

yawn (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 9 months ago | (#45200115)

If this was yet another short-sighted commercialisation of space for the new generation of Reaganite aristocrats, it might bother me. But 30 km is barely space. Anyway, it's just another one of those companies where for nothing but ideological reasons public talent is spun off into a private corporation so a bunch of leeches can skim money off mostly government contracts.

Re:yawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45200373)

Jane Poynter is one of the Biosphere 2 folks and has been bouncing around with her husband, Taber McCallum, on various projects ever since and is also promoting the Mars flyby mission (Inspiration Mars).

The reader is certainly free to draw their own conclusions...

It will take a while (2)

Calinous (985536) | about 9 months ago | (#45200139)

This is not a couple of hours suborbital flight, this would probably take most of one day (or maybe more). And while it might be nice, it isn't space

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45200167)

Can we put all the politicians on this balloon? And then make it go into deep space?

Not practical... (1)

mschaffer (97223) | about 9 months ago | (#45200337)

Hot air bags wll not get into deep space.

Re:Not practical... (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | about 9 months ago | (#45200399)

But they will stay up a long - possibly sufficient - time with that perpetual hot air supply known as demagoguery.

demagoguery could stop global warming (0)

mschaffer (97223) | about 9 months ago | (#45200503)

Just think what a belt of fat cats orbiting the earth could do.
They could reflect enough radiation to cool the earth.

Not too expensive... (1)

mschaffer (97223) | about 9 months ago | (#45200329)

It's only $2.50 per meter. (I assume it's free on the way down.) or $1.25 per meter (counting both ways).

Re:Not too expensive... (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 9 months ago | (#45201135)

So it's the same price by length as a NYC parking spot. Not bad.

Re:Not too expensive... (1)

arunvk (2017156) | about 9 months ago | (#45206195)

we should bring it down to inches and make it further cheaper.. :D

Ballooning as space launch vehicle (2)

netean (549800) | about 9 months ago | (#45200335)

I've always wondered why, if we can send balloons to the upper reaches of our atmosphere why we don't use ballooning as a 1st stage launch platform for reaching space? Granted, you'll need big balloons to life satellites or people, but surely getting stuff even 1/3rd or half way there by gentle gas lift balloon would be cheaper, easier, safer and more environmentally friendly way of launching into space. For launching people it's got to be a far less physically stressful way than strapping them to a giant firework as it pulls x number of Gees to reach high altitude and hoping it doesn't explode on the way.And far less risky for satellite launches, it a rocket fails it's a fireball, it a balloon sprouts a leak it's a slow and gentle drop with a parachute) Obviously you'll still need some form of propulsion to reach space, but until we get a space elevator it's surely a going to require far less fuel than the massive amount currently needed to get off the ground in the first place?

Re:Ballooning as space launch vehicle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45200451)

I've always wondered why, if we can send balloons to the upper reaches of our atmosphere why we don't use ballooning as a 1st stage launch platform for reaching space?

Granted, you'll need big balloons to life satellites or people, but surely getting stuff even 1/3rd or half way there by gentle gas lift balloon would be cheaper, easier, safer and more environmentally friendly way of launching into space. For launching people it's got to be a far less physically stressful way than strapping them to a giant firework as it pulls x number of Gees to reach high altitude and hoping it doesn't explode on the way.And far less risky for satellite launches, it a rocket fails it's a fireball, it a balloon sprouts a leak it's a slow and gentle drop with a parachute)

Obviously you'll still need some form of propulsion to reach space, but until we get a space elevator it's surely a going to require far less fuel than the massive amount currently needed to get off the ground in the first place?

Because past a certain point, the total buyancy you need become impractical. It would require many football field of balloon to lift a rocket up there. And there is only so much helium on earth, that it would be cost prohibitive; unless you turn to hydrogen, but then unless you find a way to totally shield you balloon from puncture and electrical discharge, your basically floating another huge firework.Things may however change with the new carbon-nanotube foam that weight nothing. Maybe it could be used to store hydrogen and stabilize it.

Re:Ballooning as space launch vehicle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45200489)

I've always wondered why, if we can send balloons to the upper reaches of our atmosphere why we don't use ballooning as a 1st stage launch platform for reaching space?

I wonder why people post speculation on slashdot instead of researching their ideas. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Ballooning as space launch vehicle (1)

netean (549800) | about 9 months ago | (#45200743)

thanks for the link. I actually had done some research about it, but hadn't come across the Rockoon before.

Re:Ballooning as space launch vehicle (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 9 months ago | (#45200597)

And I'm curious if this idea was ever researched and what were be the reasons for rejecting it?

Re:Ballooning as space launch vehicle (1)

TempeNerd (410268) | about 9 months ago | (#45201087)

This group has been toying with the idea for ages.

http://www.jpaerospace.com/ [jpaerospace.com]

I think it is still their plan.

Re:Ballooning as space launch vehicle (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 9 months ago | (#45201155)

Because the government contractors like money. They feed on it. MONEYZ! OM NOM NOM! And rockets of course basically run on money. They'd have to fire rocket scientists and hire a lot less balloon scientists and then oh no, people would be sad and lose their jobs. Wah wah wah, AOL dial up salesmen lost their jobs too. Deal with it.

Re:Ballooning as space launch vehicle (4, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | about 9 months ago | (#45201533)

I've always wondered why, if we can send balloons to the upper reaches of our atmosphere why we don't use ballooning as a 1st stage launch platform for reaching space?

This balloon [redbullstratos.com] lifted a 3000 pound capsule. To do that required the balloon to be 55 storeys tall and have a surface area of 40 acres. A loaded SpaceX Dragon capsule weighs over eight tons, so you're going to need a balloon at least five times as large.

For practical purposes, however, reaching space means getting into orbit. Getting into orbit isn't about the altitude. It is about the velocity. The ISS orbits at approximately Mach 17. Earth's escape velocity (to reach the Moon, and other planets) is about Mach 37. Top speed for a balloon is Mach 0.4 on a generous day. In other words, not much help.

For sounding rockets, and small suborbital payloads, balloons might work. However, beyond that, balloons are quite impractical.

Re:Ballooning as space launch vehicle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45203323)

ISS moving at Mach 17 ? Escape velocity at Mach 37 ? How do you calculate a Mach number when there's no atmosphere ? You don't.

Re:Ballooning as space launch vehicle (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 9 months ago | (#45204443)

How do you calculate a Mach number when there's no atmosphere ? You don't.

True, you don't. However, what does "no atmosphere" have to do with the ISS's speed? Do you think that there is no atmosphere where the ISS orbits? As for escape velocity, that's measured from the surface of the planet, so plenty of atmosphere there.

Re:Ballooning as space launch vehicle (2)

Anti-Social Network (3032259) | about 9 months ago | (#45204681)

Relevant XKCD [xkcd.com] for the more visually-oriented

Because velocity matters more than altitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45202725)

I'd leave it at that; but Slashdot want's some text here. You could levitate to 500 miles; but if you have insufficient velocity you just fall. The balloon has almost no velocity. V2 rockets could go well past 100km into space if launched vertically; but they couldn't orbit.

Or to be even more succinct, the math shows it's a bad idea.

Re:Ballooning as space launch vehicle (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 9 months ago | (#45202851)

apparently the first few klicks isn't that much of a thing compared to the trouble.

fwiw usa has launched an icbm dropped from an airplane. so that's not the problem.

wwwooooossssh (1)

countach44 (790998) | about 9 months ago | (#45200349)

Just hope you don't get hit by one of those rockets on its way up, then you'll wish you had the extra $175k

All the danger (1)

koan (80826) | about 9 months ago | (#45200483)

1/2 the fun.

Selling space travel as a bulk commodity... (1)

GameMaster (148118) | about 9 months ago | (#45200709)

Let than one third of the price of Virgin Galactic for less than one third the distance to space. The math seems to work out.

What a ripoff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45201111)

The Russians used to fly you up there in a MiG for 25000$.

lol @ escape velocity (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 9 months ago | (#45201117)

I remember over a decade ago in school learning that it takes X amount of energy to escape Earth and go into orbit and it takes an escape velocity of like 1000MPH to do it. Anything else would allegedly crash. Obviously if your velocity is 0.0001 miles per hour, and you're going up, and you keep doing it, you're leaving Earth eventually so that pretend law of physics was bullshit then and it's bullshit now. My teacher didn't see it that way of course.

Now they went and proved my point by simply floating off into (well, near) space with a simple density calculation and virtually no energy.

If they were to launch a satellite from a balloon instead, it'd take immensely less fuel because it's already so many miles above Earth. This also reminds me of my recommendation that a person simply make a high altitude airplane and keep going up and up and up until air-based lift doesn't work anymore and THEN turn on the rocket boosters to get into orbit with relatively little fuel/energy. That was listed as "impossible" by all the textbooks and my teacher. Ugh, I hate it when people print inaccurate blanket bullshit in textbooks.

Re:lol @ escape velocity (1)

schnell (163007) | about 9 months ago | (#45201463)

I think that's a pretty common misunderstanding of "escape velocity" but it's a little scary that a teacher would misunderstand it. Escape velocity isn't a speed that you have to travel constantly - you are correct that you could fly steadily away from the Earth at 1 mph and eventually escape the gravity well. My understanding was that escape velocity [wikipedia.org] is meant to represent the "initial speed required to go from an initial point in a gravitational potential field to infinity with a residual velocity of zero," meaning (oversimplified) that if I wanted to stand on the ground and throw a baseball and have it just leave Earth's gravitational well, it would have to leave my hand traveling at 25,000 mph (the "escape velocity" your teacher referred to).

Additionally, Escape Velocity also happens to be one of the most awesome video games ever [ambrosiasw.com] .

Re:lol @ escape velocity (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 9 months ago | (#45203639)

It made me cringe reading this. Both you and your teacher haven't the foggiest idea what escape velocity is, let alone orbital mechanics. I would hazard a guess and say you attended public schools in the U.S., and you were born after 1980?

As for your last point, most of the energy required for achieving orbit goes into accelerating to orbital speed (~17,500 mph). Getting out of the atmosphere is relatively easy. If you had a magic balloon that took you straight up to an altitude of 1,000 miles, you would just fall straight back down to earth again and you would be nowhere near achieving orbit.

Re:lol @ escape velocity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45203731)

That is because you are confusing energy, speed, altitude, and the practical matters of spaceflight. While perhaps not entirely accurate, I think your textbook is less confused than you are.

Re:lol @ escape velocity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45203973)

How much you wanna bet though that OP is a full-scale Space Nutter who thinks the Species must colonize the universe? You know, because it's so easy and space is small.

Re:lol @ escape velocity (1)

IdeaMan (216340) | about 9 months ago | (#45207321)

Go play Kerbal Space Program [kerbalspaceprogram.com] . It's fun and (sshh don't tell anyone:) educational. You will learn about escape velocity, Isp, Periapsis, Apoapsis, Orbital intercepts, aerobraking, etc. Oh and don't kill too many Kerbals while you're at it :)

Too expensive for the 99% (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | about 9 months ago | (#45203881)

While the difference between $75K and $250K looks significant to many people, it actually isn't.
If you have $75G to waste on a vacation trip, then chances are you have $250G to waste also.
It's just simple statistics given that the bottom end of the top 10% of _wage_ earners is $107,000 and we all know that is far below the one percenters who don't even work for wages.

Where the market is is for older people with the money to burn but not a body that can suffer multiple Gs on take-off.

Re:Too expensive for the 99% (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 9 months ago | (#45204129)

If you have $75G to waste on a vacation trip, then chances are you have $250G to waste also.

That's like saying that if you can afford a new Honda Civic, chances are you can afford a new Porsche.

There are plenty of us who could pay $75,000 for a vacation, but couldn't (or wouldn't) pay $250,000.

Re:Too expensive for the 99% (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45204621)

I'd say it's closer to saying, if you can afford a porche, you can afford a ferarri, the civic is most likely far less of a luxury item.

Based on the number of boxters I see, vs 458's, I'd say the analogy still holds.

Re:Too expensive for the 99% (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 9 months ago | (#45204587)

Most of the 1%ers I know work (doctors, lawyers). A lawyer from a top law school will likely be making over 200k in their late mid 30s if that's the path they want.

1% is a 350k household salary, multiple times mine, but hardly unfathomable, and most people at that level are still working a day job (they are also banking large amounts, and living off less, and will be able to smoothly transition into retirement in their 50s).

Re:Too expensive for the 99% (1)

Lord Lemur (993283) | about 8 months ago | (#45215063)

Depends on where you get your numbers, and if you limit it to wages or include all income.

Some other tax calculations require higher incomes before a person can be classified as part of the top 1 percent of earners.

The Tax Policy Center in Washington, D.C., a joint venture of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, runs an economic simulation model that shows the top 1 percent of earners in 2009 made $503,086. TPC projects $516,633 as the cutoff for the top earners in 2010 and $532,613 for 2011.

Roberton Williams, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, says his group's income figures are larger because it "takes a much broader, more comprehensive look at income. We look at income regardless of the source, not just adjusted gross income."

Another waste of helium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45204313)

Yet another way to use up this limited resource.

Re:Another waste of helium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45206619)

Ah-ha. Yet another reason to get fusion power going. Helium exhaust! And if we put it in balloons for kids parties, we can get an x-men thing going in a couple generations!

Did anyone check (1)

mattington (688037) | about 9 months ago | (#45211341)

... if the CEO is E.D. Lawton?
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>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...