Gliding Back Home From 60,000ft

If you want to play around with high altitudes, weather balloons are the way to go. With a bit of latex and some helium, it’s possible to scrape up against the edge of space without having to start your own rocketry program. [Blake] was interested in doing just this, and decided to build a near space glider which could capture the journey.

There are certain challenges involved with this flight regime, which [Blake] worked to overcome. There was significant investment in the right antennas and radio hardware to enable communication and control of the aircraft at vast distances. Batteries were chosen for their ability to work at low temperatures in the high altitude environment, and excess heat from the transmitters was use to keep them warm.

The glider was also fitted with an Ardupilot Mega which would control the gliders’s flight after separation from the lift balloon. [Blake] had some success flying the aircraft at 60,000 feet, but found that due to communications issues, the autopilot was doing a better job. The initial flight was largely a success, with the glider landing just 9 miles off target due to headwinds.

We’ve seen glider builds on other autopilot platforms, too. Video after the break.

21 thoughts on “Gliding Back Home From 60,000ft

    1. Seems likely it’s violating at least some FAA regs. Flying over people and out of line of sight come to mind, though suppose they could have applied for waivers.

      But video says this happened in 2014, so not sure what the situation was then. Rules keep changing with the Administration in office.

      1. its been illegal to do this in US airspace for more then 20 years now so yeah. the bigger issues are flying out of line of sight and flaying through commercial/manned air space on the way down.

  1. To whom?
    How do you deem it being dangerous?
    How do you judge it being illegal?

    I imagine there was someone, like you, at Kitty Hawk in 1903.
    “Ahhhhh! that looks dangerous!”
    “Ahhhhh! that should be illegal!”
    “Ahhhhh! The Grogs have fire in their cave!”
    “Ahhhhh! That looks dangerous!”
    “Ahhhhh! That should be illegal!”
    “Ahhhhh! They didn’t use a 555!”

    1. Initial idea was great (recovering in the launch site) but it failed. Using a spot tracker to find something possibly free falling from sky is irresponsible as people could have been injured in the process.
      They got lucky to retrieve it in one piece and not hitting anyone nor started a wildfire. If that was the case they would have been all over the news.

      Was it awesome? Yes.
      Could it have been terrible? Yes.

    2. “how do you judge it illegal?” you look up the laws in you country and see what they say. lol in the US this kind of project has been illegal for longer then diy drones have been a thing. besides flying beyond line of sight this also flies through manned airspace where its not allowed to fly

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