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Taking a quick break from the serious and seriously well thought out, let's offer a nod to Alex Jarvis who admits to "many hours photoshopping" to present this explosive concept to the world:

Vulture 2 launched through exploding balloon

Here's the idea: "The premise of this would be you reach launch altitude and fire the rocket and the helium balloon bursts at the same time / fraction of a second later (using a small explosive charge...). The rocket then shoots up and past where the balloon was... Guess there may be a chance to get tangled with the remains of the balloon, but I have a cunning idea for that too. Fill the balloon with hydrogen so when you pop it there will be no remains left due to the awesome explosion you will get. So no launch booms, counterweights etc are required, mount LOHAN underneath and fire through the balloon wreckage! Foolproof launch plan, nothing could go wrong, what is my prize?"

Since you ask, your prize is exactly the same as that on its way to Ross Hartnell, who provided the pic below. Specifically, it's a warning letter from the Civil Aviation Authority warning the pair of you to stay away from rocket motors or face the consequences...

Vulture 2 launched in a tube inside the balloon

Right, onwards. Pretty much all of the above is based on using a single, bog standard balloon.

But what about the toroidal alternative? Eddie, it's over to you: "I get the impression that the launch boom would need to be very strong to support the weight of the ship, and be perfectly balanced with the counter-weight. However I believe there may be a see-saw action involved with the launch boom and counter-weight, when the ship takes off. My idea saves on the use of the launch boom and counter-weight, saving on weight and provides the opportunity of a vertical launch.

"The basic idea is to make the helium balloon a ring, much like a doughnut, with cables going from four (or three to save weight) ringed attachments. The payload will be centred in the middle of the hole (a very large on) approx 10 – 15 metres below. This will allow the structure to remain stable throughout the process.

"The ship will be launched from this point (through the hole in the ring). This allows the ship to launch vertically missing the balloon minus any see-saw actions or instability, provided the helium ring is large enough with a wide hole to allow the ship through with plenty of wiggle room there should be no problems, a device could be fitted to the ring to allow it to make a controlled decent shortly after launch.

"This method will save the weight of the launch boom and counter-weight, needing only the payload (marked as PL in images), the ship and the weight of the balloon plus cables.

"I feel that this may be a little complicated with finding the materials needed (the balloon mainly) and working out all the volumes and harness methods."

Vulture 2 suspended in the middle of a toroidal balloon

Eddie adds: "An alternative suggestion if a single balloon is preferred is to make the balloon flat and build a launch platform on top, a payload supported below the balloon will help maintain stability."

An alternative toroidal set-up, the the launch platform on top of the balloon

Mark Goldie also likes a bit of torus action, but with counterweights to keep it stable:

Another toroidal balloon, with counterweights to keep it stable

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