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Project Lindbergh

Under construction as we speak

Goal: To construct a balloon capsule to travel across the Atlantic Ocean. 

The major obstacles are:

1. The distance!  its about 4000 miles to Europe/ Africa.  Fortunately, the jetstream travels at around 150mph, which cuts down the length of the trip from a couple weeks to a couple days!  But how to  catch it?  The jetstream exist at around 30,000 feet, but is not uniform throughout the Atlantic Ocean. 

2. Lack of communication.  Normal communication devices such as cell phones and radios would not work over such a great distance.  A satellite phone / Long range HF radio beacon needs to be implemented. 

2.  Buoyancy difference between daytime and nighttime.  During the day, the sun heats the balloon and causes it to expand.  The expansion increases the the lift of the balloon and the height of the balloon will increase.   During the night, the balloon cools down and contracts.   This causes the height of the balloon to lower due to decreased lift.  The buoyancy difference causes the balloon to either pop during the day because its too high, or land in the ocean during the night because it drops too low. 

3.  UV degradation.  UV rays wreck havoc on latex balloons.  Normal balloons would pop within a day due to UV rays.

There are two possible ways to workaround the buoyancy problem. 

1. Zero-Pressure Envelope: The balloon drops some sort of weight during the night to maintain altitude.  During the day the envelop releases some helium to reduce lift.  This approach only work while the supply of ballast (weight) and helium last. 

2. Super-Pressure Envelope:  The balloon maintains its rigidity throughout flight. If the balloon drops, it will displace more air due to the denser air.  Thus increasing lift and restoring equilibrium. If the balloon rises, the thinner air causes the balloon to displace less air, again restoring equilibrium.

Previous attempts:

Soli Deo Gloria

Spirit of Knoxville

Mit Amateur Radio team

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