Archive for July, 2009

Airbeam Development, 5.5 psi

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Failure sometimes can be healthy for the soul, but it is always good for your tech.

We have spent the last month gluing reinforcement strips around the Ascender airbeam rib. We could never get the rib above 3.2 psi without bursting. We needed to get it to 3.4 psi. This gives us a 100 percent safety margin over the 1.7 psi operating pressure. We tested the glued seams on a straight airbeam and we were able to reach 3.5 psi. Expectation were high for big rib test.

The team had the rib up to 2.4 psi then BLAM! (it really was incredibly loud) 2.4!!!????!!!! What was that all about. Discouragement all around. A three foot section of the rib was completely shredded, we were done for the night.

The next day out of shear frustration we cleared the day and decided to fix this problem. We had been chasing this a bit too long. Airbeams are normally made with heavy, very strong materials. Our requirement is to make it work with ultra lightweight nylons and thin film plastics so just turning to canvas was out. The result was light ribbon loop around the beam, bit NOT attached in anyway to the beam. Ribbon banding, or ribs on the rib. The first set of ribbon loops would make a sound like a shotgun when failing. The second general of loops held. By the end of the day we completely blew pass the 3.4 goal and hit 5.5 psi. We could have gone higher but didn’t want to risk damaging the end caps if it blew. The ribbon banding is only slightly heaver than the glued seam reinforcement.

The next day, Saturday we put the beam through it’s paces. We conducted load tests with the beam spanning a five foot gap. We spend the day putting loads from 5 to 38 pound on the beam at pressures from 1 to 4 psi. Now it’s on to repair the big rib.

All is well, so far...

All is well, so far...



Slow reaction time...

Slow reaction time...

5.5 psi !!!!!

5.5 psi !!!!!

Under load

Under load

Measuring defelection

Measuring defelection

Banded Beam

Banded Beam

Floating to Space Spotted in Smithsonian

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009
Junior JPA member Paige at the book store in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Junior JPA member Paige at the book store in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

More Away 38 Pics

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

a38_antannasetup3 a38antennasetup2


a38_release1 a38_onboard1

a38_onboard_desc a38_recovery1

PongSats Away!

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

DVDs’ copied, pictures, data sheets printed and certificates signed. All of the Away 38 PongSats are winging their way back to their respective researchers. This batch of space experimenters came from Belgium, England and California.

This makes 3289 flown so far. Sixteen PongSats have already come in for the next flight.

PongSats forever!

Video from our 100th Trek into the Sky

Monday, July 13th, 2009


These are scene from the Away 38 flight on June 27, 2009. There were six ground video camera, four flight video camera and three flight still camera (plus a documentary film crew, but we didn’t get to see there video yet). The video is a just under nine minutes of samples of the 20 hours of film we shot.

Top Ten Airship/Near Space Books

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

There are more good ones, but these are the few you never let get too far away from your desk.

10. Shenandoah Saga, by Thom Hook 1973

9. Touching Space, The Story of Project Manhigh, by Gregory Kennedy 2007

8. The Pre-Astronauts: Manned Ballooning on the Threshold of Space, by Craig Ryan 1995

7. Man High, By Lt. Col. David Simons (MC) USAF 1960

6. Airship Aerodynamics, by The United State War Department 1929

5. Airship Technology, by Gabriel Khoury and J. David Gillett, 1999

4. Magnificent Failure: Free Fall from the Edge of Space, by Craig Ryan 2003

3. Pressure Airships, by Thomas Blakemore and W.Watters Pagon 1927

2. Up Ship, by Lt. Commander C.E. Rosendahl 1931

1. Floating to Space, The Airship to Orbit Program, by John Powell 2008
(OK, you had to see that coming…)

From a Different Angle

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Here are some more burst and descent stills. These are from the horizontal HD camera. Being horizontal there are some good landing scenes.