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Balloons and Parachutes

Our balloons and parachute have been ordered!  Read on to find out what we bought...

Our balloons and parachute.
(Click on image for larger version.)

There are really only two makers of meteorological balloons, worldwide: Totex, and their newer challenger in the world markets - although in operation since 1964 - Hwoyee.

We contacted Totex to get pricing for their products, and some technical information.  Unfortunately, it appears they didn't feel our email was worthy of a reply.

Finally, we tracked down a UK-based seller of both companies' products, Random Solutions, who also sell parachutes, and appear to understand the High Altitude Ballooning market well.

Ideally, we wanted 1500 or 1600gm balloons, but Random ran out of stock before we ordered, and is currently awaiting more.  We' scaled back our payload weight maxima and ordered two 1000gm Hwoyee balloons (we'll only use one at a time, but we wanted a spare in case of prelaunch problems or a balloon loss during fill), and a Spherochute 36" parachute.

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.

[Update: 2011-10-27]

Great news - we managed to source a 1600gm balloon, which means we can now ditch the hydrogen plan altogether.  Our ascent phase should take around 75 mins, compared to about three hours (depending on all-up weight) using the 1000gm envelope and hydrogen.  With the days shortening, this is significant!


Last Updated (Thursday, 27 October 2011 23:58)