bloon balloon for near space travel bloon balloon for near space travel
aug 16, 2011

bloon balloon for near space travel

‘bloon’, a zero-emissions craft designed for commercial near-space flight

with its lighter-than-air balloon vehicle ‘bloon‘, barcelona-based company zero2infinity seeks to provide an ecologically friendly solution for near-space flight.

‘bloon’ lifts off from a specially crafted inflatable dome, constructed directly onto the ground. the craft is composed of a central pod with full windows, housing up to four passengers and two pilots. a chain houses communications and navigation systems, as well as emergency landing gear, and connects the ship to a large helium balloon. the balloon is the only propellant for the system: there are no chemical emissions and no engines or noise pollution.

to land, a decelerating parafoil is released above while eight inflatable ‘feet’ extend from the craft to absorb shock upon touchdown.

rendering of the ‘bloon’ pod

zero2infinity has successfully tested scaled prototypes to altitudes up to 33km (20.5 miles), into the earth’s stratosphere, and expects to carry human passengers to a height of 36km by 2015. the first human test flight of a scaled down ‘minibloon’ craft is planned for 2012.

actual photograph from a prototype test flight  

designed as a commercial travel experience in addition to its potential for scientific use, ‘bloon’ flights are customizable in terms of location and timing of the trip, with optional requests including decoration of the pod interior or the serving of a gourmet meal. a 3-hour flight is slated to cost 110,000 euro (approximately 160,000) USD per person.

view of structural changes of ‘bloon’ over the course of a flight

the landing system involves the ejection of a parafoil above the craft and the extension of shock-absorbent airbags below

rendering of pod interior

footage from unmanned test flights of ‘la roja’, a scaled prototype

via gizmodo

  • This really works? What about strong winds?

    Sirsaavedra says:
  • You’d better get cutting on making this happen given that the world supply of helium is only supposed to last for another 20-30 years.

    bill says:
  • scaring and unsafe

    breakingrules says:
  • won’t happen, as we’re quickly running out of helium on this planet –

    Arne says:
  • Yep, helium is not something that the world has plenty of. If they were to do it, a tethered craft where they can be pulled down would seem to be the way to go d;-)

    Jetwax says:
  • Awesome!! The technology is proven, the cost is reasonable, and the purpose is clear. The US is the reported major holder of Helium. For some reason, the US legislature passed a bill to use up it supplies as soon as possible at an economic loss. Go figure? Something is rotten their.

    Excel says:
  • You take off in Spain and enter the jet stream and if the capsule holds up you land some where else totally at random on the planet. One hell of a ride.

    gavox says:
  • Mr. Urdiales is an specialist in vaporware! Be careful

    John McCain says:
  • Isn’t the world really short on helium? Why can’t they use a compressor to deflate the ballon into a pressurized tank. Second they are promoting it’s 0 emissions when they are throwing and entire ballon + the helium away everytime they do it.

    Seems like someone could put a bit more effort into this. Otherwise seems like a cool idea.

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