Balloon Challenge

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Hackspace member Gareth Howell has suggested participating in the Global Space Balloon Challenge.

"The Global Space Balloon Challenge is an international education outreach project to encourage people from around the world to build and launch their own high altitude balloons. Over a single weekend, teams from all over the world will launch balloons to the edge of space, recover them, and share the photos and data that they have collected. Our goal is to encourage people of all ages to get their hands dirty building their own space hardware, and to promote the spirit of hardware hacking and international STEM collaboration."

You can read the Google group discussion concerning the idea here.


Must-have payload

Extra Payload/Feature Ideas

  • "Golden record" as per the Voyager missions
  • Live telemetry downlink
  • Command uplink
  • Geiger counter
  • Solar irradiance meter - Balloon will get in the way of readings from directly above though
  • Ubiquitous red rabbit

Legal/Procedural Matters

CAA Permission and NOTAMs

Following information summarised from

  • CAA permission much be obtained before release (call 020 7453 6599 or email
  • This must be done at least 28 days prior to release.
  • Because weather will dictate precise date/time of release, a window of a few days can be specified.
  • The CAA will issue a NOTAM (Notice To Airmen) for these dates.
  • Maximum permitted payload weight is 4kg.

External Links

Global Space Balloon Challenge
UKHAS (UK High Altitude Society)

Ideas Deluge

Michael's late-night brainstorms.

I've written a short play about a small machine sent into the air - it gains self-awareness and feels betrayed by its makers. It tweets its annoyances (well, by packet radio or somesuch).

Project naming and (dare I say "branding")

  • Icarus name already done in this realm :( pretty obvious really!
  • Immediate second choice pun: "Thick'R'Us" already done - appears to be pornographic! DO NOT GOOGLE!
  • we then move into the ridiculous... TBC

Meeting 1: 21-10-2014

We watched a number of high-altitude balloon videos to get inspired including Felix Baumgartner Space Jump World Record 2012


  • guidelines: 1Kg is normal, up to 2kg possible,
  • 2x cameras - what's available - lenses
    • stabilising the image/payload
    • idea: predicted field of view projected onto map
  • golden record - playing music - reporting back track
  • Radio messages to and from RTTY
  • "phone"
  • multiple payloads?
    • dropping messages
    • dropping seeds
  • red rabbit x1


  • planning meeting - we are doing it now!
  • early testing of modules - esp. comms, cameras, stability, droppers, power (running time, battery performance under extreme cold, etc.) environmental testing (heat/cold, EMF susseptability, shock & vibration, impact)

  • launch
  • mission control team
    • live happenings on the web / tweets SMS / Facebook / Google+
  • chase team
    • finding and recovery
  • post processing of data

trajectory weather and wind

  • predictions for our route versus live feedback

As much live documentation as possible

  • Immediate upload
  • YouTube
  • Live internet radio show
  • Google Hangout (nobody uses this)
  • Live website updates for trajectory and chase team.

Planning for disaster

We don't find it - it's lost - oh well!

Post Meeting 1