[Tarik and Kemal] have an objective in mind: to drop a home-made autonomous glider from a high-altitude balloon and safely return it to home. To motivate them, [Tarik] has decided not to cut his hair until they reach 18,000 feet. Given the ambition of their project, it isn’t surprising that his hair is getting rather long now.
While he grows increasingly hirsute, [Tarik] is working on the project from several angles, creating a device that will drop the 2.2 meters (7.2 feet) wide glider from the ballon using fishing line and nichrome wire. When the device reaches altitude, the nichrome wire is activated and heats up, melting the fishing line and dropping the glider. He has been testing this using a quadcopter at low altitude, with mixed results: often the glider falls in a nose-down profile, rushing into the ground at high speed. That might be less of an issue when they reach 18,000 feet, but from a quadcopter at 90 feet, it’s a problem.
[Tarik and Kemal] are taking a very honest and open approach to the project, documenting their missteps and failures in as much detail as their successes. That’s a commendable attitude, and they have made a lot of progress so far, creating a system that drops the glider in a more stable attitude and successfully landing several times.
Next, they want to start planning for a higher altitude launch, which means they need to look at controlled airspace and getting FAA permission to fly. So, they are looking for a partner who has a spaceport or something similar that they might be able to use. Does anybody want to help them out?