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Thursday, March 4, 2010

500-gram balloon

The 500-gram balloon came in today. This big daddy is 10-feet in diameter at normal inflation, and has a burst diameter of 15-feet! It holds over 500 cubic feet of helium, but the helium tank I'm renting is only 300 feet. Still, I think this will be good because the balloon will A) Have 20 pounds of lift; and B) be a little more than half-full. This allows for a good ascent rate (which is important to get up there fast as possible), and a higher ultimate altitude because the balloon can expand more.

Now all I'm waiting on is the new SPOT GPS unit. Once that comes in and the account has been set up for tracking, I will put the entire payload together and start finalizing my project for launch. The launch date has been set for the early morning hours of Saturday, March 20th if weather permits. If the jet stream is too far south and in Arkansas I'll wait until it clears up but if everything is looking good I'll launch that day. Also, I can rent the helium tank for the entire week I'm off for spring break, which will allow an optimum time frame for launch and preparation. I want everything to be as perfect as possible because I only have one shot at this. If it is not successful, it might be a while before I will do it again. That is why it MUST be successful! But of course, the "best laid plans of mice and men..."

One more package to come in, and then I can finalize the payload and put it all together. It's getting closer, and sometimes I can hardly believe what I am about to do. The idea that an average person can put together a small project that offers views of space reserved often for astronauts and an elite few is truly innovative, though I am hardly the first to do this. I think it is a good thing that "regular" people are doing this now. It makes space that much less mystifying; it's attainable. The day average people can go to space and make something out of themselves is the day I'm waiting for...

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