At this point, as you know, we've reached our funding goal -- and together, we did it in less than eight days. What happens now?
Now we focus on STRETCH GOALS.
If this is your first Kickstarter campaign, stretch goals might be a new concept for you. Here's how it works: since funding on Kickstarter is "all or nothing," the site encouraged us to start with the minimum amount we'd need to get something done.
For us, that was $1,000 – But once Kickstarter projects meet their initial goals, it's common to announce "stretch goals" – a new pledge target, that will let us do even more.
So here's our first stretch goal:
I realized while researching different aspects of this 'mission' that I'm not finding the definitive 'how-to' guide that I would find most valuable. There are plenty of resources out there, just not the ONE 'I' would want to use. It's time to push for a stretch goal of at least $1500 to cover the expense of publishing a how-to e-book.
After the launch and recovery, I want to produce a document to highlight the workflow, decisions we made, the successes and failures and really explain the math we are going to work through (science/photo goals, budget, purchasing, weight, payload testing, balloon inflation, winds, tracking, etc).
The extra funding would go to paying somebody better than me to assemble the e-book and make it look good (more professional than I can manage).
ALL donors would have access to the e-book and I am considering making it available online for a small fee. My intent is NOT to make money, but to cover my expenses and get material out to schools and interested hobbyists.
So here's the deal... project funding above $1500 will guaranty some kind of e-publication to all donors (free) and education/hobbiest (cheap). If we can't get enough funding to put out a quality publication (<$1500) I am not going to just pocket the extra and I'll go out of my way to get at least one quality printed photo from [near]space via mail to all donors over $10.
Original funding goal
Our intent is to send an unmanned, helium, weather balloon up to 100,000ft. Suspended underneath the balloon will be a GoPro video camera, tracking radio and GPS enabled tracking (for position reporting).
To be FAA compliant for unmanned aerial balloon activity, the entire payload must be under 4 lbs and will be housed in a foam container and slowed by a small drogue parachute.
The planning and building phase will take 2-4 weeks. We will wait for a suitable 'launch' window, considering winds aloft and directions of travel.
Inflation will take 1-2 hours. The balloon will take 3-4 hours to climb to its final altitude and then burst. Descent from 80,000-100,000ft will take up to an hour.
Tracking and recovery will take 3-6 hours and up to 3-4 days depending on where the payload comes down. Recovery could be 10-100 miles from the launch site.
Who I am...
Self-described aviation 'geek'. I dabble in most things technology. I work for a local university and focus on integration of technology in the classroom and faculty/staff uses.
I have a pilot's license, a nice telescope, an old jeep, and a bad case of wanderlust.
Who is helping...
We've got at least 4 people 'on board' the project so far with another 4-5 on the sidelines ready to help as needed.
Kelly, a fellow aviation geek and technical college instructor
Chris, a newly minted electrical engineer type
Jason, a maker-space instructor, fabricator, and dreamer
John, geocacher and payload recovery expert
Nearly a dozen friends and family on standby ready to help with launch and recovery operations.
Risks and challenges
There are many factors that could complicate launch and recovery.
High altitude ballooning can be tricky to 'dial in' to reach specific altitudes; there is a learning curve but we have thoroughly researched the topic.
We have to contend with thermal issues; extreme cold between 18k and 60k feet and extreme heat from 60k-100k due to the lack of atmosphere and inability to radiate heat caused by the batteries and camera.
Due to the unpredictability of the balloon's flight path, we are relying on a 'hacked' prepaid phone to send GPS coordinates after landing and we may add a simple radio beacon for direction finding for the final search on foot.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (34 days)