Put the Weather Balloon Back In The Box

Really? Sushi and beer "in space"? What's next?

Really? Sushi and beer "in space"? What's next?

What the hell is going on with this weather balloon craze? It seems that everything from beer to sushi is being sent “into space” these days. There’s only one problem… weather balloons don’t go into space!

Launching random crap into the stratosphere may be fun and give some companies a fleeting marketing opportunity, but please, quit it. Weather balloons should be used for… um, I dunno… high altitude research. And for high school/university students’ learning opportunities/science outreach. Oh, and Roswell conspiracy theories. But that’s it.

Just because you have a small camera with a gazillion megapixels, a credit card and a GPS tracker, the logic of buying a huge balloon and filling it with helium, strapping your camera to it and then running across the countryside to retrieve the wreckage seems silly. Sure, you get some nice video of cloud tops from an altitude of 20 miles, but you’re not the first to do this!

Having said all that, if you do feel compelled to create yet another YouTube video of a weather balloon launch, knock yourself out. But please, please, please don’t include the word “space” in the title, even the BBC gets confused (apparently, that weather balloon-launched Lego man went “into orbit”!). Space starts above 62 miles (known as the Kármán line). Weather balloons can make it to around 25 miles before popping. By no stretch of the imagination can balloons make it into “space.”

Also, weather balloons don’t take stuff on a “suborbital flight.” That’s about as “suborbital” as me taking a flight to Vegas.

Gripe over.

About these ads

Astroengine Live #7: Beer, Beer and Cutting-Edge Cosmology

I'm not sure whether I should laugh or cry...

I'm not sure whether I should laugh or cry...

I wasn’t actually going to mention the whole space beer thing again, heaven knows I’ve been banging on about that enough! But I just stumbled across a website advertising a film that will be made called “Beer Drinkers in Space”. (Sign me up!) There’s little information about it, but it appears to be based on a 1980′s original movie of the same name. The blog has recently announced that “Beer Drinkers in Space is readying for a March shoot in Orlando, Florida. The movie, starring Christopher Atkins and James Hong, will be directed by Iake Eisenmann.” I wonder if they need a space beer science advisor? Hmmm…

Anyhow, today’s Astroengine Live will include an airing of my 10-minute-long podcast for the 365 Days of Astronomy that aired last week (about, you guessed it, “The Link Between Beer and Space Settlement”), a behind-the-scenes look at the AAS conference last week in Long Beach (about, you guessed it, drinking free space beer), and something about magnetars, colliding black holes and hot neutron stars. Oh yes, and a run-down of the Carnival of Space. It’s going to be awesome.

Show starts at 4pm PST, 5pm MST, 6pm CST, 7pm EST… and midnight GMT!

Get Involved!

Have any articles or stories you want to contribute? Have an opinion on anything in the world of space? Email me on astro@wprtradio.com and I’ll be sure to give it a mention. Eventually, I hope to have telephone call-ins, but for now, email will do.

Listen to Astroengine Live using the Paranormal Radio player.

Check out Paranormal Radio’s live streaming vidcast, Captain Jack will be airing my show on his website too.

The Link Between Beer and the Colonization of Space

A Japanese brewery has successfully produced 100 litres of Space Beer. Hurrah!

The beer won’t actually be consumed in space (which seems a shame somehow), but it was made totally from barley grown on the International Space Station. For a lucky few, 60 people will get to sample the beer in Tokyo next month. So, what can they expect?

Alas, there won’t be much difference between the Sapporo Brewery’s 100% space barley brew when compared with a terrestrial grain as there is no measured difference in the DNA of barley grown in space when compared with barley grown on Earth. Therefore I doubt there will be any “eureka!” moment for the alcoholic beverage industry and therefore no immediate plans to launch a micro(gravity)brewery into orbit…
Continue reading