back to article PARIS in 89,000 ft climax

The Paper Aircraft Released Into Space team has spent the last three days sipping champagne and analysing data and images following last week's triumphant space plane mission. Here's an quick snap of the launch (.kmz location here), and the same seen from the main payload Kodak Zx1 video camera: The PARIS launch by José María …

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that last photo is awesome

great work.

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Pint

Beautiful

just beautiful! Enough pints to warrant a replacement liver for all involved!

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FAIL

Oh dear, shouldn't that be ANTI-CLIMAX

I'm sorry but I doubt I'm the only one who thinks the results of this project are one huge anti-climax.

You managed to attach a video camera to a weather balloon - wow.

Two objects falling through the atmosphere happen to land close together when one is supposed to actually have wings and be able to glide? Perhaps some flight testing of the design was required?

Perhaps you should also have listened when another reader commented that using metallic paint on something that is supposed to use radio waves is a bad idea.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Oh dear, shouldn't that be ANTI-CLIMAX

Yes, it's an epic fail and no messing. We at PARIS look forward your breathtaking space plane project in due course. You do have a breathtaking space plane project on the go, don't you? Of course you do, you smartarse, so try this for a callsign: ODFO.

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Troll

Crikey

That was smelly bait too

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Paris Hilton

I'll risk taking the bait

Full marks on what's been achieved but PARIS was (I thought) more about the Paper Airplane than the balloon; the clue is in the PARIS naming - In that respect Badvoc has a point.

Brilliant balloon ascent

Brilliant PARIS release

Brilliant balloon descent

Brilliant footage

But for PARIS herself; it can be said to be not so different to dropping a brick from a great height. A spectacular great height admittedly.

Brilliant that PARIS was recovered with minimal damage.

I think, for those expecting our playmonaught to take her for a spin twice round the earth, landing neatly at Barcelona airport, it came up a bit short :-)

The real success I see was in getting this all to work and first time too. So many things could have failed but so much worked out. Maybe good fortune played its part but it did work. And kept people interested in progress. These days it's rare to have something to cheer for. So I can't help but say well done.

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Oh dear. Hit a sore spot did I?

I had really enjoyed following this story up to the final day - that's why it is a huge anti-climax. Good for you for embarking on the endeavour, it was great entertainment, but what were the actual results? You know, those things that people in the real-world are normally judged on. We have a video and telemetry from a weather balloon - and can you honestly say that is a great achievement and has it not been done countless times before? As for the "plane" part, we have no video and no telemetry, you could have saved yourself the effort and simply stuffed playmonaut in a paper bag and we'd have the same results.

A round of applause for the effort, but a big thumbs down for refusing to acknowledge failure.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Oh dear. Hit a sore spot did I?

That thundering sound I can hear must be Lester approaching.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Oh dear. Hit a sore spot did I?

Didn't really hit a sore spot, it's just this kind of tedious, negative gobbing off that's tiresome.

Who cares about the balloon? Sure, world+dog has done it, and good for them.

"As for the 'plane' part, we have no video". Well, yes we do, which proves it released at the stated altitude. And it survived, so there you have it.

In summary, then, we completely failed in our primary objective to build an entirely paper plane, send it to extravagant altitudes, release it by purely mechanical means and then recover it.

See, we've acknowledged failure. You now owe us beer.

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I'd be very interested in seeing some flight testing of the plane

I'm a long-time RC flier, and, for the record, NOT interested in pointless carping about the perceived deficiencies of this project. I think what you've achieved is brilliant. First-run tests always have glitches, so being able to build, launch, release the payload, and recover both carrier and bird deserves MUCH praise.

Now to the burning-curiosity part. How well does the Vulture 1 FLY, when, say, hand-launched in dead calm off a slight rise over a field of grass or the like (to avoid damage on landing, natch)? A few such tests could go far toward understanding the bird's behavior when released at altitude.

From the video footage, it looks like the bird did a full roll when released, then seems to have settled down into some sort of conventional flight. One wonders if its weight distribution or control trim caused it to circle; that would account for its landing near the carrier vehicle, I would expect.

Of course, the Vulture 1 is now a priceless artifact (any interest from the Guinness Book folks?), but have you folks any interest in characterizing the bird's flight behavior for posterity?

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Anonymous Coward

Call sign

G-ODFO, surely?

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Pint

Let's see ...

Built paper plane - Tick - and it was very nice, even with silver paint that might have blocked radio signal (warnings from other reg readers ignored).

Sent it high into the sky - Tick - 89,000 ft - very good.

Release it by purely mechanical means - Fail - Balloon popped contrary to original objective.

Recover it - Ooops, needed a very large helping of luck due to tracker failure and also aided by lack of horizontal "flight" by the "plane".

Overall a good attempt but a bit of a flop in my opinion.

Better luck next time!

Have a beer anyway to hopefully put you in a better mood and avert further insults.

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Grenade

Ok I'll bite...

might have blocked radio signal - Clearly not GPS Track recorded, Beacon Transmitted, only the APRS GPS messaging Failed and backups were in place and worked successfully.

Release it - Ultimatly it released, actually at a better altitude than could have been dreamed of!!

Recover it - by means of Radio Beacon - Tick - beacon was not there by accident no luck involved.

lack of horizontal "flight" - 89,000 Feet! - go read up about air density and altitude, U2 can only "Fly" upto 70,000 feet, the absolute altitude record for sustained Horizontal flight of 85,135 feet is held by an SR71. Just what are you expecting?

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Barcelona airport?

He should of course land right here: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=51-57,+rue+de+Courcelles,+Paris,+France+75008&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=57+Rue+de+Courcelles,+75008+Paris,+Ile-de-France,+France&ei=3wvQTMdzxofhBubvxYcH&ved=0CBQQ8gEwAA&t=h&z=16

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Rare Air Up There

Of course Vulture1 was found close to the launcher.

1. It was unpowered.

2. It was released above 98% of the atmosphere. (Higher than cruising U2 spy plane.)

3. Being made of paper it had to have low aspect ratio wings.

So when released it dropped like a stone. Literally. 'Cause it was at the edge of space. As the last picture shows.

Making it a super-awesome glider would have been both impossible and stupid. Impossible because high aspect wings made of paper would have ripped off given the high speed attained during the free-fall descent. Stupid because if they didn't, the glider would have traveled forever, never to be seen again.

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Boffin

No! here!

http://goo.gl/lsaU0

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@Parax

Same idea, different location (they do have more than one in that city)

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@Stoneshop

Not same Idea - I just proferred a more suitable Hilton, one labelled "Hilton - Paris Hilton - Paris" not "Hilton Arc de Triomphe"! (was your idea I take no credit)

(this one is a rare find as it rarely shows in searches for some reason..)

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Anonymous Coward

err

"Finally, the fact that the Vulture 1 landed close to the main payload (.kmz) was, given the height they separated, both coincidental and an amazing piece of luck."

No, it meant that the 'glider' was actually more what we'd technically call a 'brick'

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Boffin

Not necessarily

That also depends on the time difference between separation and landing of both parts. If the glider went into a spiral flight, as suggested by the footage, it could land quite close anyway.

To test the difference, next time round they should also release a brick from 89,000 ft, shouldn't they? All in the name of science.

No evil scientist icon?

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Beware Snipers

Of course it's going to come more or less straight down, it started with zero horizontal speed (stall). If you want it to glide miles then you would probably need a gyro and some actuated elevators, to start a dive and pull it out in a controlled fashion, probably ailerons and rudder too to stop any turbulence turning it over or spiralling - but then it's not a paper aeroplane is it! (It's an aeronautics degree!)

It's a great achievement, and on the first go too, and here's a pint to Lester for seeing it through!

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Coat

Balance...

A properly balanced glider will pull out of a dive itself given 89,000 feet of potential energy to recover. You can try that out yourself with a properly made conventional paper plane and an upstairs window.

It's a superb achievement, telemetry mostly worked, the release worked and the video is superb.

PARIS 2 with full flight video and a balanced glider will be a truly spectacular.

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Boffin

RE: Balance

Maybe so, problem is the greater power of the wind at height; which would make the control necessary. Also doesn't help if it flat spins down, as it would appear it did in the initial stages at least. Maybe a vertical release would have helped.

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Boffin

A brick is what you want

You don't want to build the plane too well. A good model glider will stay up for ages and catch thermals and stuff. A good paper aeroplane wont and will descend at about one foot per second.

At one foot per second, Vulture-1 would have been aloft for 25 hours and would never have been found. Of course there's not much air at the higher altitudes, so it'll be somewhat faster than that in practise. However if you want a chance of finding the thing I imagine that you will want it to come down in something less than an hour, (the payload took 40 minutes,) so I'd guess a good design for PARIS would not make a good paper aeroplane for throwing across the room..

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Stop

Brick Released In Space

Um, or maybe not - just think what the logo might be.

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Re: A brick is what you want

This would be somewhat fiddly but...

Add a much smaller bit of expanding rubber hose, inside the aircraft. One end of it is attached to the elevators. At 10,000-ish feet and below, the elevators are trimmed to glide. Above that, the hose ensures a dive of decreasing severity the lower the aircraft gets.

That way you get an aircraft that actually glides, without it taking all day and then some to get to ground level.

Eh, roll on Mk II, I say. Either that or a micro-satellite attempt. Considering a sounding (d'oh, not a "signal") rocket can get quite close to orbital velocities anyway, a 90,000 foot head start could be... scarily feasible.

http://wwwsolar.nrl.navy.mil/rockets/vault/launch.html

0-1320mph in six SECONDS. At ground level. With wind resistance. Okay, it's a pretty large rocket, but it's also carrying a little more than a toyphone and a radio transmitter.

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Boffin

Just trim by moving weight

You have one end of the concertina pipe moving anyway, add weight to suit if you actually want to go that route. No fiddly mechanism to transfer the movement to trim flaps.

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Boffin

I'm no rocket surgeon

nor a brain scientist, but I don't see wind as much of a problem. You're launching from a balloon, which will be drifting with the wind; the plane itself has no propulsion and its (horizontal) speed respective to the surrounding air will not be vastly different from lower altitudes. Only air density and thus air resistance will be a factor.

Of course, if Chuck did indeed perform a steep dive from the release height to somewhere between 5000 and 10000 ft (165..330 double decker buses) his craft will have reached an appreciable aerial velocity which it would have retained initially when pulling out, but given the plane's aerodynamic profile and its weight it will have slowed down rather quickly and settled at a thrown-paper-plane airspeed and flight attitude.

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Not a brick.

A brick surely would have been falling much faster and the touchdown would have been messy.

If there was no "glide" involved, it would have come down hard on the nose or tail, and I imagine there would be visible damage to them.

Or to put it another way: imagine a brick falling from space and hitting your head. Now imagine Vulture 1 falling from space and hitting your head. Now imagine a small object with the density of brick but the mass of Vulture 1 falling from space and hitting your head. The only survivable one is Vulture 1....

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Re: Just trim by moving weight

It's one way. I was thinking of saving as much weight as possible though, rather than adding a movable weight. Plus the pipe would only need to be tiny, as a small control rod movement equates to a rather large movement at the elevator end.

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Brilliant!

I love the slight banking as the plane separates - it would have been brilliant to get a camera into the plane also - imagine the footage from that (I've been reading though and know this wasn't possible - pity, it would have been breathtaking!)

As it is though, very, very impressive stuff.

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CT

Inky blackness of space

Liked the glimpses of the inky blackness of space as it spiralled down.

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Awe...

...some. That final pic makes it all worth it. Space, man!

If you ever do a Mk II, get some insulation and put a cheapo cam in the cockpit. That's about the only way this could be made even more ...what's that word?

Oh yeah, awesome.

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Ice damage?

Congratulations. Marvellous pictures. What a shame Vulture-1 did not have its own video in the end.

I notice the damage to the wing is a single simple tear outwards. It seems likely that if it was caused by a tree on landing that the hole would involve inwards-facing distortions and probably be larger. I wonder if it was caused by a very small lump of ice sticking the wing to the main payload.

So now you know what the problems are, when is the next flight? ;-)

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Ice damage?

Yes, it looks like the Vulture 1 got iced to the main payload, hence the non-release at the expected altitude.

To get a viable video camera into the plane, the latter would have to be a lot bigger - to support the weight.

The next flight? Hmmmmm

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viable video camera

Perhaps one of these (with an external Lipo):

http://ajoka.com/pendvr.htm

Shouldn't be a weight issue there! especially if you can strip it down, if you replace the internal 150mah battery with a 2000mah phone battery it'd be superb. (would be even better if you could add a wideangle lens!)

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Or maybe a 2nd-hand 5G iPod

They're flat, 16GB and 1.3 oz. How'd that sound? Not sure the length of the video though.

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Alert

Tiny cameras

There are some insanely small video cameras - like this one: http://www.dcctrain.com/shop/item.asp?itemid=1793 (dime sized, 4 ounces including batteries), but would it work at altitude? I doubt it - I've played with slightly larger cameras than that one, and they did NOT like getting cold.

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Re: Ice damage

> Yes, it looks like the Vulture 1 got iced to the main payload, hence the non-release at the expected altitude.

Another possibility: I notice that the Vulture I release mechanism involved quite a long wire with a hook on the end. Is it possible that the release worked as planned but the hook caught on the rim of the hole in the underside of the main balloon payload rather that dropping clear? That would also be consistent with the plane falling clear when the balloon burst and with no rips or other damage on the top of the wing, which I'd expect if it had been stuck to the main payload box firmly enough to be carried up the final 30,000 ft.

> To get a viable video camera into the plane, the latter would have to be a lot bigger - to support the weight.

The on-plane camera could be very small and light. Take a look at key-fob cameras: totally self contained, 15.6g complete with micro-SD card and will film for about 60 minutes on its internal battery. As it has a single cell Li-poly cell inside, it shouldn't be hard to add a bigger external Li-poly cell (a 250 mAh cell weighs 6.5g and costs £3.50 -this is probably at least 10x the internal battery capacity). You want the #3 (808) cameras, which are currently going for between £6 and £12.50 on eBay. More details are here:

http://www.chucklohr.com/808/

These cameras film for about 15 mins / GB, so an 8GB card and an external battery should let it film for 2 hours. Putting the camera in a styrofoam block for insulation and adding a second 500 mAh battery to run a small heater should just about do the trick since it looks as though the balloon landed 80 minutes after the tracker was switched on. Better yet, Carry two cameras with one rigged to take a still every 5-10 secs - that should be more than enough capacity to cover the entire flight.

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Go

This one

http://www.dnt.de/index.php?dir=produkte/detail&id=52104&app_tv_current=

is maybe a bit bigger and heavier than the keyfob/spypen cams, (133g total, with the camera at 29g), but it has the advantage of having the actual recorder separate from the camera, which would help with weight placement and the keeping warm of the recorder battery.

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Ice damage (or sabotage)

If you pause the video shortly after release, you can see that the playmonaut knew of the damage and wanted to get it documented, so cleverly steered the damaged port wing into shot.

There is definitely something at that point of the wing, but the clarity on the tube isn't clear enough to say it's definitely the hole, but it's in the right place.

Maybe it's clearer on the original video?

Just a thought for mkII... how about adding some small wings to the main payload box so that it's also more stable after the balloon goes pop?

Excellent work all round though... as others have said though, a 'nauts eye view would've been superb!

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Boffin

Collision damage

Considering that the hole has two straight edges at right angles to each other, and it's on the port wing which tipped up as the plane banked after release, I'd venture the guess that it was caused by the wing hitting one of the corners of PARIS' box.

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@ Or maybe a 2nd-hand 5G iPod

Nah. Practically, "World + dog" couldn't view the video.

It's a Jobsworth.

So, no Flash.

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Mad bastards

The lot of you are totally bonkers.

Please keep it up!.

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Seriously fast?

If Vulture-1 was released at 89,000 feet and didn't encounter any significant air drag until it got down to (say) 70,000 feet, it would have reached 337m/s - which is comfortably supersonic at that altitude!

There are a lot of variables, and of course there is a little atmosphere up there, so it would have been slower in reality. It'd be nice to see a z-axis analysis of the GPS data though.

Is maybe, just maybe, our heroic Playmonaut's first name Chuck?

PS Awesome project, awesome pics and video. Truly fab job folks.

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Can't use GPS for this...

For the sorts of things we're looking for in this, GPS might not work. Refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Positioning_System#Restrictions_on_civilian_use for the explanations. If Vulture1 reached 89,000ft, that's nearly 17 miles... somewhat more than the 11 mile limit on domestic GPS.

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Hey, Ridley, ya got any Beeman's?

And did he fall off his horse the day before?

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There's more Jo Kittinger, than Chuck Yeager, to this one

In an airless environment, there's little to call, between a falling man, and a falling paper plane. In his jump from 19 miles up, Kittinger reached over 600 miles an hour before he opened his chute at 18,000 feet. This sounds terrifying, of course - opening a parachute, when you are falling at 600 miles an hour - but remember that the air breaking, even at 18,000 feet, would have been fairly modest (he was still 3 and a half miles up).

So, yeah, falling from sixteen and a half miles up, this paper plane will have fallen like a stone - almost straight down, for upwards of three or four minutes, and reached some fairly astronomical speed, before it began encountering air resistance. The air resistance will have been modest enough not to tear the thing apart as it slowed, however. Once it's gliding, it's gliding, and it clearly glided to ground, or it would have been in bits.

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Paris, the final frontier...

...or is that space?

Anyway, good job all round.

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good wprk

have a look on you tube for lots of others - seems to be the hobby of choice recently. there is an excellent HD one on there filmed with a gopro HD.

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