I want to send a phone into space.
More importantly, I want show that anyone can send a phone into space.
Photo credit Robert Harrison, robertharrison.org
Every so often we see stories about people or classrooms that decided to do something CRAZY and attach a weather balloon to a HD Camcorder and let it go. Or they create a homebrew computer with some very sophisticated (and often incomprehensible) code and hadware and they write some blog posts about it. The stories and pictures make it to places like digg.com and gizmodo, sometimes even NASA. Why? Because it sounds like they've done the impossible. They've sent things high into the stratosphere... a space generally reserved for government agencies and billionaires. Horray!... but should it be so unusual???
I don't think so.
The recently outlined future of NASA puts a man landing on Mars in 2035 and scraps plans for a return to the moon. I find that a big bummer, man. Without a space race, the hopes of extrateresstrial exploration are no longer on the shoulders of government but on the drive and ingenuity of entrepreneurs. Why not get started taking with a spark like this. Who knows what it may ignite.
Technology evolves so rapidly we oftentimes don't realize what means we may already possess. The impossible 5 years ago is the commonplace today.
With a today's smartphone we now have 4 powerful pieces of technology in one small package: a camera, a computer, a transmitter/receiver, and a GPS. Using these 4 elements, a weather balloon, a recovery parachute, and by creating a custom Android application we can reach and observe high into earth's atmosphere more easily than ever... and then pick up our safely returned cargo and do it again.
- An Android smarthphone will be attached to a weather balloon filled with helium and set free
- An App running will be taking pictures and video and sending back location information, enabling tracking of the craft
- The balloon will burst at its maximum altitude and a recovery parachute will bring it safely back to earth
- Using the tracking information, we will recover the phone and retrieve pictures and video from its flight
Keep in mind that there are many, many unknowns! Experimentation and failure are part of what this project is about!
Here's what I'll be using the funds for:
- Weather ballons, not sure how many at this point
- Recovery parachutes
- Helium (surprisingly expensive)
- Miscellaneous materials
- Inevitable catastrophes, specifically lost and broken phones.
The end goal of this project is to have a stable Android Application that has been proven to aid in the getting a smartphone high into the atmosphere, taking pictures and video along the way, and subsequently retrieved. Once that end goal is met I will distrbute the application and allow others to explore as I have.
However, this project is not about the goal alone, but also the journey. It's as much about discovery, frustrations, triumphs, and failures as it is about producing a software application, if not more so.
I don't want to do it alone. Throughout the development and experimentation of Astdroid I intend on remaining very open and public. I will be blogging, sharing video, and if possible using UStream for live launches... and perhaps live video from the craft itself. I encourage anyone and everyone with thoughts and ideas to share them. This is for everyone to enjoy!
- (32 days)