Near Space is simply what it implies. It is an area of the earth's atmosphere where the horizon is curved, the sky above is black and the air outside is only about 1 percent of sea level. Several groups around the country have recently been exploring this bit of outer space on the cheap. There are a couple of university/college programs that focus on this science as well as private groups of egg-heads that have launched and recovered dozens of these missions. You don't need to spend millions of dollars on developing and building rockets that will be used once and discarded (and then start all over again...Now where did I leave that spare $20mil).
Barntek is a loose collaboration of like minded individuals in search of cool stuff in the upper atmosphere. More specifically, my dad, my brother and myself wanted a picture to hang on the wall that shows a black sky and curvy earth. Ok, we do have some other ideas for experiments in near space, but most of our efforts so far have been geared toward putting a camera into the upper atmosphere and recovering it safely back at the end of the mission. So, the afore mentioned private groups of egg-heads would indeed include us.
Latex sounding (weather) balloons do the job of hauling your gear into Near Space very well. They have easily been flown to 100,000 feet or more. And with the variety of sizes of balloons available, you can put up any size of gear package up to the legal limit. A typical package contains 3 main systems; the Lift system, the Recovery system, and the Science/Telemetry package. The Lift system consists of the balloon, connecting lines and the means to fill the balloon with helium. The Recovery system is the parachute and the lines connecting it to the Science package. The Science/Telemetry package consists of the experiments and the electronics necessary to track and, ultimately, recover the entire package. These systems are all connected together in a line, balloon connected to the parachute which is connected to the science/telemetry modules.
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