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Romania Targets Moon with Balloon-Launched Ball

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posted on May, 27 2009 @ 05:53 PM

Nearly 40 years after Americans first set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969 with NASA's historic Apollo 11 flight, a host of private rocketeers are hoping to follow to win a $30 million prize.

That tested technology includes a balloon that can carry ARCA's European Lunar Explorer (ELE) space probe into the upper atmosphere, eliminating the need for a traditional launch pad and allowing ARCA to launch close to the equator from a sea platform. The "0" pressure balloon design is similar to a giant black hot-air balloon that uses solar energy to heat the air inside, instead of the burner that normal hot-air balloons use.

ARCA, one of 17 teams competing in the Google Lunar X Prize.

I had no idea these sort of competitions were going on. Interesting.

[edit on 27/5/09 by Majorion]

posted on May, 27 2009 @ 06:15 PM
HAHA!! Thats great!

Could you imagine NASA if this thing works??

"Hey Jed??"
"Have you seen this thing!?"
"I KNOW!!... and we've been wasting hot air for years!!"

I really hope this thing works, imagine the technology that would follow.

posted on May, 27 2009 @ 06:28 PM
Very Interesting there are some other threads on the lunar x prize you should look at if you are interested. When moon missions become routine then let the fun will begin.

I think the latest date set for the completion of the challenge is during 2014 so not long to wait at all.

posted on May, 27 2009 @ 06:34 PM

Originally posted by bharata
I think the latest date set for the completion of the challenge is during 2014 so not long to wait at all.

And NASA are planning to go back to The Moon by 2020, is it?

But why does it always take so darn long?

posted on May, 27 2009 @ 07:08 PM
Nothing better than a competition to get things rolling. Space X won a contest last year for attaining space flight.

posted on Jun, 1 2009 @ 02:08 AM
Will you get awarded for using flying saucer technology? Or probably get disqualified for cheating??!!

posted on Jun, 1 2009 @ 02:28 AM
Buckminster Fuller wanted to build huge geodesic structures miles in size which would use hot air heated by the Sun to launch.

I believe the numbers were something to the effect of 3000 people living in a 1 mile sphere, which could rise into the sky from a difference in internal temperature of 1 degree.

They would rise into the upper atmosphere. They could be used as launch platforms for large payloads, and would be reusable.

No fuel, just the sun and the large bubble. I don't know why NASA has not gone that route. There are wonderful materials available now that did not exist in the 1970s.

Like that gold transparent material stronger than steel they built that biosphere from in England in what used to be a rock quarry.

The math has been done, the project was phesable in the 1970s. The required materials would be simple by today's standards.

Picture Mylar balloon material stretched over that light as air AeroGlass material frames.

Buckminster Fullers Cloud Nine

[edit on 1-6-2009 by Cyberbian]

posted on Jun, 1 2009 @ 03:10 AM
Don't know how accurate their animation is, but assuming that it is fairly accurate, I have a few observations.

First, they appear to be relying on a single balloon to loft thier vehicle to launch altitude. This represents an opportunity for a "Single-point" catstrophic failure; If the ballon bursts on the way up, they've lost everthing.

Second. it appears that they are using a hybrid-propellent propulsion system. Since their launch vehicle appears to be tethered directly to the single balloon (this system is refered to as a "Rockoon"= Rocket+Balloon, BTW), I assume that their rocket carries the additional weight of the insulation necessary to prevent their solid propellent (Hybrids commonly use a cryogenic oxidizer with a solid fuel source, often a butyl rubber-based compound) from freezing and cracking in the frigid upper atmosphere.

A freeze-cracked solid fuel core will not burn correctly and will often explode on ignition.

On the other hand, carrying the required additional weight of thermal insulation will impede the performance of the rocket.

They could go with an all cryogenic fuel supply, and forego the insulation, but then they would have to figure a way to pump the super cold fluids to the combustion chamber.

I also question the wisdom of attaching the balloon directly to the rocket.

This seems to be a bit risky in that, from experience, I know that things tend to get very "sticky" in the cold of the upper atmosphere, even at the equator.

All that being said, I wish them the best of luck!

posted on Jun, 1 2009 @ 05:28 AM
Actually the idea of a rocket being deployed from a balloon is pretty good plan for low-cost boost thru the atmosphere to get to an altitude where a 60-second burn will get you into orbit. There was a show on science channel I believe that showed NASA Scientific Balloon Facility launching this balloons with upwards of 4 tons of sophisticated hardware for extended flights lasting a couple of months. And the cool part about it, they could bring the balloon down and recover the hardware.

If you think about it the balloons while not as flashy as the shuttle, offer the most environmental friendly and affordable boost through the atmosphere. The only downside to balloons is they have to be launched under optimal conditions (ie. the winds needs to be blowing in the right direction).

As far as a launch from balloon goes... it is very much feasible and makes more sense than launching from a tow plane. A tether with explosive bolts is about all it needed to make that happen. For the X prize, all they need to do is launch, orbit and land the weight of the 3 man crew. Balloons and Parachutes might be the way to go.

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