GCSA Studios

We moonwalked the panda.

Carter On October - 18 - 2010

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

It’s been too long, GCSArmy. After succesfully finishing and deploying the new GCSA web experience, I decided to take a break from the site for a little while. I come back today, lo and behold, Flanders has made three new comics!

On to more tangible projects…
We’ve decided to launch a satellite into space! Yep! Just now!

Our objectives are:

  • Maintain communication with the flight vehicle at all times
  • Take pictures of the Earth’s curvature, and of space without the blur of atmosphere
  • Recover the flight vehicle

Now, realistically, we don’t have the ability to achieve orbit (yet). We really don’t have the ability to achieve geosynchronous orbit. Our basic mission is to go up, look around, and come down. We could use rockets, but they are pricey. A much cheaper and more stable alternative would be to use a sealed hydrogen container. You may refer to such container as “balloons”…

Balloons. Now we’re talking more in the realm of GCSAbility! You see, when you release a helium balloon, it (sometimes) rises until it bursts. That is how we’re going to get up and down. As fun as they may be, we’re gonna need a little more torque than normal birthday balloons can give us.

Birthday Balloons. Not gonna cut it.

Birthday Balloons. Not gonna cut it.

No, what we’ll use is a military surplus weather balloon. As I mentioned earlier, we’ll be using hydrogen, not the more familiar helium. There are a number of advantages to hydrogen. It is the most plentiful element in the universe and much cheaper than helium. It is lighter than helium. There’s only one slight disadvantage… it is one of the most explosive elements known to man. But that’s neither here nor there!

The pros and cons of hydrogen

The pros and cons of hydrogen

Now I’m sure you’re wondering, “Isn’t there a law against this! Don’t you need a permit or something?”. Well, let me happily reassure you that no permit is needed! The only restrictions that will apply to us are: FAA-FAR101 (subparts A & D) and some miscellaneous FCC restrictions regarding radio transmission.

This idea is just getting off the ground (no lolz intended), so we don’t have any schematics or diagrams to show you yet. But the project was discussed with all relevant GCSA personnel and has unanimous support. What we have agreed upon is there will be redundancy in place for the navigation/communication. We expect to lose communication near peak altitude, and we’re okay with that. But we need to ensure we have done all we can to maintain radio contact with the flight vehicle during the EDL (Entry, Descent, Landing) phase.

There is so much more I could tell you about this project! But as this is likely my longest post ever, I will save the rest for future updates. Please, do let us know what you think in the comments. If you have any suggestions or recommendations we’d be quite grateful. In closing, this is not a joke. This is the future.

Image courtesy of Flickr's "matthewvenn"

Image courtesy of Flickr's "matthewvenn"

The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine.

By Sharp and Flame,

Category: News

3 Responses

  1. Alice says:

    i want my name on it for aliens to read. haha! this is very interesting.

  2. Greg Rickaby says:

    First – this website design is killer (no joke), great job modding it.

    Second – I’d like to propose that while you’re up there we take energy readings from the FM band. I’m curious to know how far UP my radio stations reach, since the antennas are optimized to shoot more horizontally.

    Third – If RF readings aren’t possible, then we should perform a pressure test to find out at what height Pabst Blue Ribbon cans burst.

    That is all.

    • Carter says:

      Thanks for the design compliments. That means a lot coming from you. Did you notice the footer? 😉

      I will gladly add whatever instrumentation you like. The only problem is that the payload has to weigh under 4 pounds. If you can design a circuit that does what you want and is lightweight, I’ll gladly send it aloft. 🙂

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