Re: cheap space flight

Ira Brodsky (
Mon, 18 Nov 1996 12:51:01 -0600

Gene Leitl wrote:

>Since we have lots of experts on the list, a question: stratospheric
>baloons fly pretty high, 30-40 km. Assuming a 1 ton baloon payload (which
>sure defines a gigantic hydrogen baloon), which drags a solid (Al, ammonia
>perchlorate, resin) booster, made from light compound with a very small
>payload (50 kg?), let's say 20 km high up, then igniting the booster to
>travel the rest of the way to LEO.
>Does this make sense, weight-wise? What are pros, what are cons?

I don't know much about space flight, but I will point out that there are
quite a number of LEO satellite systems under design and even construction
(Iridium, Globalstar, Orbcomm, Teledesic, etc.). Recently, there have been
at least three proposals to accomplish much the same thing with
stratospheric platforms.

I am not aware of any of the LEOS operators who plan to use baloons, nor do
the stratospheric platform proposals appear to be attracting significant
funding. I plan to interview several of these operators in the next 60
days, and I will ask them if they have considered using baloons.

Ira Brodsky
Datacomm Research Company
Wilmette, Illinois