LOHAN rival to inflate bulging orbs with hydrogen
Trifling explosion hazard outweighed by greater buoyancy
We at the El Reg Special Projects Bureau are well aware that some of you are less than impressed with the choice of lifting gas for our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project.
Well, we're not going to be swayed on the matter, but the Hindenberg fans among you are directed to the STARS Project, a private High Altitude Ballooning (HAB) initiative comprising "a series of near-space remote sensing missions showing how indivuduals can explore space and perform real science, without the budget of a global super-power or a multinational aerospace company".
The blurb elaborates: "The mission objective is to launch an instrument package to over 100,000ft (30km), record measurements and images throughout the flight, track the package through its descent phase to landing, and retrieve the data."
There's more background on kit and methodology down at the STARS website, but the bit about balloons caught our eye. The team couldn't get a 1.5kg balloon (the size of PARIS's impressive orb) and will use a 1kg one instead.
They note: "We haven't ordered lifting gas yet. Because we've had to take a hit on the payload weight, and use a much smaller balloon, we're now considering a hydrogen fill, rather than helium, for the added buoyancy. Obviously, we're going to have to take anti-static precautions during the fill, but it should compensate to some extent for the loss of lift. We will need to agree with the CAA that a hydrogen fill will be acceptable.
"On the plus side, hydrogen's cheap as chips to make, compared to helium – you just electrolyse water, or use a catalyst reaction – so we might save a pound or two."
STARS main man Jon Green tells us he's "still mulling over the lifting gas problem", and says in the end it's down to the Civil Aviation Authority whether hydrogen is a goer.
And before you lot start banging on again about LOHAN and hydrogen, let's clarify our position on this lightweight element. We like hydrogen. It can be combined with oxygen to create water – a substance of moderate interest which is elevated to greatness when used to make beer.
Hydrogen is also a vital ingredient of C10H14N2 (or 3-(1-methylpyrrolidin-2-yl)pyridine to its mates), which is precisely why we won't be using it.
Nonetheless, we wish STARS well, and look forward to seeing the results of their audacious hydrogen plan. ®
Re: Hydrogen is the right choice
Unmanned? We take the safety of our Playmonaut very seriously.
For added bang
fire the rocket payload straight up through the balloon.
I just like things that go WOOOMP
There is NO issue with hydrogen....
FFS... The flammability of H2 is a vanishingly small risk.
It's of the same order as smoking in a car which has petrol in its tank. People do this all the time. Or having a gas flame in a kitchen where there is tissue paper in one of the cupboards.
The only trick you will have to learn is not to put the flame close to the flammable material. This is a trick which humanity has managed countless times during recorded history. To suggest that it is beyond you makes us think that the HSE brigade might actually have a point - that REG staff actually need to be continuously told that water is wet, flames are hot and that if you stick a sharp point into your body red stuff will come out....