Near space balloon living is a future we can all share. Floating to near space costs 1/1000th as much as orbiting earth, and unlike rocketry, advances in ballooning don’t help missile makers. Do we want a space age of floating solar cities or bunker-dwelling paranoia?
I’ve been making small balloons out of thin plastics welded together with heat, glues, and tapes since 2008. I have a passion for solar hot air balloons, and got into using and designing tethered balloons for environmental monitoring and communications through Grassroots Mapping. I haven’t flown in a balloon of my own, yet.
- “Low cost: On the basis of a rough estimation of the basic costs of the main balloon and common equipment (excluding the on-board scientific observation instrumentation), the outlay required for a balloon experiment is at least a factor of 10 lower than that required for a small sounding rocket, at least a factor of 100 lower than that required for a large rocket and a small satellite, and at least a factor of a 1,000 lower than that required for a large satellite. Since the launch facilities are particularly basic, its operation and maintenance costs are also substantially lower.”
- Page 12, Yajima et. al. Scientific Ballooning: Technology and Applications of Exploration Balloons Floating in the Stratosphere and the Atmospheres of Other Planets. New York 2004.