Dogecoin, samosa, seeds and a myriad of other objects have been thrown into space, ever since mankind learned the science of traversing the planet’s gravitational pull. While rocket boosters continue to be the best-known method of sending science supplies into space, the same is not true of sending light objects to seemingly inaccessible altitudes. A more cost effective method using a high altitude balloon or just a weather balloon has gained fame over the past decade and has been dubbed the “poor man’s space program”.
Sent to space
A company called Sent Into Space, founded by British mechanical engineers Chris Rose and Alex Baker, was the first to explore the technology. In December 2010, the duo sent a balloon into space and uploaded the video of their trip to YouTube. Former PhD students at the University of Sheffield, England, Chris and Alex bought a weather balloon for sale on eBay and a satellite tracker and built a payload from leftover moss found in their department’s workshop.
Since then, the company has made more than 500 launches and sent a variety of items into space, including chocolates, silver coins, chicken nuggets, Barbie dolls, among others, into space. .
How does a weather balloon work?
The traditional “weather balloon” launch kit includes a helium balloon, parachute, container (to carry payload), tracking device and computer system that records flight data. This includes GPS, altitude, pressure, humidity, temperature, and acceleration.
The balloon is ready to rise into the Earth’s atmosphere. According to NASA, the balloon generally ascends at a speed of 1,000 feet per minute. It takes about two hours to reach a floating altitude of 120,000 feet. Once the balloon reaches its optimal height, the pressure on the balloon decreases and it expands until it bursts. Once it takes off, a parachute opens and it takes about an hour to descend. Using GPS tracking, one can predict where the balloon will land and recover the payload.
Image: Sentintospace / Instagram