PongSats on Away 120

August 31st, 2016

Did you know that PongSat is the largest student flight program in the world. 18,000 payloads flown.

Ascender 36 Airship Progress

August 5th, 2016

Last weekend we did the third inflation test of the Ascender 36 airship. This was an assembly test. We installed the internal carbon keels, the inner helium cell and all the valves and vents. One step closer to flight.

We tucked the Ascender between the building and our second wind ramp.

Installing the helium lift cells.

Port keel ready to be installed.

Airship to Orbit Book now with Bonus content!

August 5th, 2016

What is Airship to Orbit?
It’s a research program, it’s 184 test flights, it’s an army of dedicated volunteers making it happen, and….
it’s a BOOK!!!!!!!!!

The book ‘Floating to Space, the Airship to Orbit Program’ is now being sold direct by the author (yours truly) on amazon. I’ve added two mission DVD to the existing DVD that comes with the book along with mission data sheets.

Click on the book and buy yours today. Help keep us flying!

Wind Ramp Test

August 5th, 2016

Wind Ramps

August 5th, 2016

Wind is always a problem with balloons and airships. Balloon launch bags were our first step in handling the wind. They have allowed us to launch in 45 mph blows. The next step is inflatable wind ramps. The idea is to create a standing wave over the airship keeping the wind out. We think it will take at least two 50 feet apart to setup the wave.

We’ve build two wind ramps. We used them on Ascender parking lot inflation. They work fantastic and let is inflation the airship in wind that wouth otherwise shut us down.

Ascender 36 First Inflation Test

June 10th, 2016

Last Saturday we conducted the first inflation of the Ascender 36 outer envelope. We only ran it to 80 percent volume just to make sure we sewed it right. Next comes the installation of the internal truss structures.

Away 120 PongSats and MiniCube Mission Video

June 10th, 2016

Ascender 36 Airship Progress

May 17th, 2016

The new Ascender 36 Vee airship is coming to life. The last big job is joining the hull panels.

Floor panel with keel truss

The nose panel. For scale the fabric is just a two inch wide segment on the nose of the model.

More Pics from the Away 120 Mission

May 4th, 2016

Away 120′s solar panel.

Away 120 up top.

The balloon helium valve assembly.

Another Flight into the Black

May 3rd, 2016

On Sunday May 1st we send Away 120 to the edge of space. This was our 184th mission.

Away 120 carried PongSats, MiniCubes, a balloon valve experiment, a plasma rocket engine experiment and a new solar panel for the Ascender. We had high winds all during prep and launch making things a bit more exciting.  We recovered the vehicle three hours after landing. The team is all back safe and sound. We’re now diving into the data and sorting PongSats.

Third Submarine Life Support Test

February 1st, 2016

We conducted our third fully sealed life support system test Saturday. It went much smoother than before. We had updated the software, replaced the several power regulator with bigger ones, changed the scrubber blowers, added a sensor and completely replaced the circulation system. The test took about five hours with three hours in the sub and two and a half hours with the hatch sealed. We still have a lot more to improve but it’s really moving along.

Ascender 36

February 1st, 2016

Construction of our next airship, the Ascender 36 is in full swing. The team is building the inner helium lifting cells. The plastic for all the cells is cut and two are complete with the upper deck ports attached.

Life Support Test Pics

January 18th, 2016

Getting ready to be closed in for the test.

Jack and Kevin are attaching the aft magnetic emergency drop weights. They are not directly involved in the life support test however we wanted the sub to be in full operation load configuration. This put the electronics is a realistically loaded condition.

The view from inside.

Kevin on checklist keeping me safe.

Just talking to the AI. She likes to be called Bell.

After 90 minutes with the hatch sealed the test is done and it’s time to get out.

Natalie was behind the camera making us look good.

Life Support System Test a Success

January 16th, 2016

90 minute in the sub and lived to tell the tale. The test went really well. We learned more in that 90 minutes then the last two years of studying life support systems. We now have a pile of data, pages of note and a huge list of mods to make.

Life Support System Test

January 16th, 2016

Big test tomorrow.

We will be conducting the first fully closed life support test in the submarine. There’s about an hour of checklists then the hatch will be closed on yours truly. We’ll be monitoring CO2, Cabin O2 percentage, pressure, temperature, O2 tank pressure, humidity, and on me blood O2 levels and pulse. It’s a completely closed system.

The goal is one hour for this first test, but really after the first 15 minutes we’ll see how the scrubber and O2 replenishment system are balancing and we’ll likely need to open up and adjust. The submarine is the test bed but we will be using the same system for our airships and spacecraft. The big risk is not too little oxygen but too much. Too much O2 is a fire hazard. To keep that from happening we directly measure the O2 levels. Also any cabin pressure increase would indicate to increased O2 level (a drop in cabin pressure is a hints of a problem with the carbon cycle). Also the team will be standing by to get me out.

It’s going to be fun to breathing on air that we made.