Many people have asked.. “What’s next?”.
Well, there’s a whole range of different things I would like to attempt in the near future. Some are briefly explained below, while others are kept under wraps:
- Autonomous Return Vehicle: I’m currently investigating the possibility of an autonomous glider to bring the payload safely back to a predetermined location. This would prove very useful as it would (hopefully!) avoid tree landings which seem to have plagued the HAB community recently, and also provide much greater probability of retrieving the payload. The legality of this needs to be explored further. – Work has begun, albeit in the very very early stages – HABE Glider is the name.
- Rockoon: The idea of a “rockoon” is simple – it’s a rocket attached to the balloon that will fire off when around 30km altitude has been reached. However, in practice, this is a lot more difficult to achieve. Due to the lack of air at around 30km up (where 99% of atmosphere is below) in theory much greater speeds and therefore greater distance should be able to be achieved compared with the same powered rocket on the surface of Earth.
- Fireworks in Space: I’m currently working on letting off a few fireworks at about 30km up. I believe this has never been done before so will be a 1st! Some issues that became apparent immediately such as lack of oxygen seen to have been resolved. A launch mechanism has been built and tested (with reasonable success). Currently the safety of this is being thought through.
- Solar panels: Most of us have been on an airplane and know that above the clouds there’s a continuous supply of Sun (well.. in daytime). So, solar panels should provide a great source of power for future missions to the edge of space. These were flown on HABE 2 and proved a great success, average power was around 50mW, but peak power was over 450mW. A load of 191ohms gave better power results than the load of 150ohms. This is a real possibility for powering future flights, the glider and long duration missions.
Currently being actively worked on – HABE Glider. 2 airframes are currently in construction: one I am making myself and another is being made by flyingwings.co.uk. The autopilot will be an adapted ArduPilotMega 2.0.