Three Airships

October 1st, 2017

Ascender 26 (left), Ascender 9 (middle), and Ascender 36 (right) all together. Ascender 26 looks so small next to Ascender 9.

Note: we changed how we name them, before it was by length, now it’s number of ones we’ve built.

Drones eye view of Ascender 9

October 1st, 2017

A drones view of Ascender 9. We had 3 drones observing the up top valves, vents and pumps during the test. They have become an important tool in building vehicles this big.

System Intergration Test Completed for Ascender 9

October 1st, 2017

We completed the full system integration test yesterday on the Ascender 9 airship. It took 12 hours but the team pulled it off. All the pumps, valves, vents, motors, props and telemetry and on board network got put through there paces. We even put a 200 cubic feet of helium in the aft internal cell and pumped it back and forth between cells. This actually is a fairly complex vehicle.

Ascender 8from behind.

Anthony setting up the systems test before we inflated the airship.

Kevin and Eric getting a motor installed.

Paul inspecting the outer envelope during inflation.

Ascender 9 Assembly Test

September 12th, 2017

We conducted a full assembly test of the Ascender 9 airship. In this test the inner envelope divider walls were installed along with the inner lifting cells, the upper decks, and all the valves, vents, pumps and helium plumbing. This test took about four hours. Everything went great and give us a big list of todo’s before the next test.

Art to the Edge of Space

September 12th, 2017

On August 12th we were privileged to fly creations of Artist Azuma Makoto to the edge of space. We flew three balloon vehicles each with one of the artists flower creations. The missions were a success with each vehicle capturing thousands of amazing photos.

One of the vehicle used two balloon and a nine foot swing arm that rotated and locked the 22 pound camera in place after launch. It was one of our more complex launches.

This was the first mission that we were able to use our new building at area 42.

Ascender 9 Progress

July 29th, 2017

Yesterday the team fitted the outer envelope on the truss structure of the Ascender 9 airship.

The next step is the installation of the inner helium lifting cells and then the motors.

Ascender 9 Keel Trusses

July 18th, 2017

Meanwhile back in Sacramento the keel, nose and cross trusses are coming together.