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Jeremy Wright, 01/24/2013 02:00 pm


Far Horizons Project Initial Questions

Below is a list of questions and proposed answers to help define the requirements for this project retroactively. You can view the meeting minutes here

Q1. Why are we making this?

A1. Adler's original motivation for developing the Far Horizons Project High Altitude Balloon (HAB) program was to act as a gateway to developing CubeSats. Adler's design is highly influenced by assistance from L. Paul Verhage and his book. The Far Horizons Project has the added benefit of providing educational opportunities to practice near space missions with students and enthusiasts which fits in with Adler's goals of democratizing space exploration.

Q2. Who is this for?

A2. The Far Horizons Project is for anyone who wants to build experience in the are of near space missions. This includes schools and school clubs, scouting troops, Makers and Maker Spaces. Adler's goal is to help groups get the experience to fly their own missions.

Q3. How will this be used?

A3. The HAB provides a platform to carry scientific and engineering payloads (no more than 12 lbs of total vehicle weight with individual payloads of 6 lbs or less) to a near space environment (exposing the vehicles and payloads to very low pressures and temperatures, and radiation levels significantly higher than those experienced on the ground) for a duration on the order of a couple of hours.

Q4. What features does it need to have (now)?

A4. The High Altitude Balloon needs to:

  • Operate safely throughout its flight
  • Operations should be flexible to deal with changing conditions on the ground (including adjusting for weight restrictions, winds, or other unexpected launch conditions)
  • The HAB needs to be trackable to facilitate recovery operations
  • The HAB needs to provide a soft landing
  • The HAB needs to support carrying experiment payloads (each payload container limited to 6 lbs)
  • The HAB total system weight must be under 12 lbs
  • The HAB should carry the payload to between 90,000 and 100,000 feet (27432 and 30480 meters)

Q5. What features does it need to have (later)?

A5. Desired enhancements include:

  • Controlled descent system (guided landings using parafoil kite to either hit or avoid landing sites)
  • Live two-way telemetry (or command & control) and the ability to receive live experiment and operations data
  • Stabilized platform system (Adler is making progress on this one)
  • Alternative balloon configurations (zero-pressure, super-pressure balloons)
  • Alternate lift gasses (Adler uses helium right now)
  • A structure to hold the balloon during filling operations and to automatically stop the filling operation for the desired lift

Q6. What are the legacy requirements?

A6. The HAB must comply with FAA regulations (FAR 101)

Q7. Who's going to build this?

A7. Small teams (2-3 members minimum) of volunteers, students, and space enthusiasts. The designs are openly licensed so anyone can put together a team to build and operate a Far Horizons Project HAB. Note, while the technical requirements to build the HAB are small, an amateur radio license is required to run the tracking radios during missions.

Q8. How many do we want to make?

A8. We expect teams will want to build one or more systems (the reusable components of the HAB) for their own use. Note, each mission requires the purchase of a new balloon envelope and lifting gas.

Q9. What is the budget?

A9. The budget for a first flight (build and operation of one HAB) is $300. Future versions with more robust tracking and payload systems will require additional investment.

Q10. What is the timeline?

A10. The first build by an outside group (Quelab) is anticipated to take approximately 4 weeks.

Q11. What waste products will be produced by the manufacture and/or operation of this?

A11. Each flight will require the disposal of a latex balloon (part of which will be lost in the sky) and lithium batteries. Construction materials include "pink insulating foam".

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