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Fly to the moon in a balloon!

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  • Joe (uk-ufo) McGonagle
    The following extract is from: http://www.jpaerospace.com/atohandout.pdf It looks like a novel, simple, and viable project to explore the solar system. The
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 31, 2005
      The following extract is from:


      It looks like a novel, simple, and viable project to explore the
      solar system. The main web site is at:


      Where there are details of progress so far.

      The atmosphere as a ladder to space.

      Balloons have carried people and machines to the edge of space
      for over seventy years. JP Aerospace is developing the technology
      to fly a balloon or more accurately, their relative, the
      airship.directly to orbit.

      Flying an airship directly from the ground to orbit is not
      practical. An airship large enough to reach orbit would not
      survive the winds near the surface of the Earth. Conversely, an
      airship that could fly from the ground to upper atmosphere would
      not be light enough to reach space. The resulting configuration
      is a three-part architecture for using lighter-than-air vehicles
      to reach space.

      The first part is an atmospheric airship. It will travel from the
      surface of the Earth to 140,000 feet. The vehicle is operated by
      a crew of three and can be configured for cargo or passengers.
      This airship is a hybrid vehicle using a combination of buoyancy
      and aerodynamic lift to fly. It is driven by propellers designed
      to operate in near vacuum.

      The second part of the architecture is a suborbital space
      station. This is a permanent, crewed facility parked at 140,000
      feet. These facilities, called Dark Sky Stations (DSS), act as
      the way stations to space. The DSS is the destination of the
      atmospheric airship and the departure port for the orbital
      airship. Initially, the DSS will be the construction facility for
      the large orbital vehicle.

      The third part of the architecture is an airship/dynamic vehicle
      that flies directly to orbit. In order to utilize the few
      molecules of gas at extreme altitudes, this craft is big. The
      initial test vehicle is 6,000 feet (over a mile) long. The
      airship uses buoyancy to climb to 200,000 feet. From there it
      uses electric propulsion to slowly accelerate. As it accelerates
      it dynamically climbs. Over several days it reaches orbital
      velocity. Both the climb to orbit and reentry are slow controlled
      processes. No high reentry heating, no big fuel tanks to explode.

      Once in orbit, the airship is a spacecraft. With its
      solar/electric propulsion, it can now proceed to any destination
      in the solar system.

      It is happening now.

      This is not fanciful speculation. The project is now over two
      decades in development with over eighty real hardware test
      flights and countless development tests. It is being built
      completely with existing technology.

      It's being built now.

      The high altitude airship has been built and is awaiting test
      flights. Several Dark Sky Station platforms have been built and
      flown. Every piece of equipment for this system has been carried
      to 100,000 feet and tested in the environment. The first crewed
      DSS is scheduled to fly in eighteen months. The ion engine
      120,000 foot flight test for the orbital airship will be flown in
      the next five months.

      It's being paid for now.

      This new way to space has not and will not require a massive pile
      of capital to accomplish. Each component has its own business
      application and funding source. It is a pay-as-you-go system. For
      example, funding the atmospheric airship was provided by the
      Department of Defense for use as a reconnaissance vehicle. The
      DSS has multiple customers in the telecommunications community.


      We are seven years from completion.

      <full article with images at
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