WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – A group of Purdue Technology students design a high altitude balloon to shoot a rocket into space.
The group said launching a rocket once it is already miles above ground is a cheaper alternative to the current method. They designed a hydrogen balloon made of thin plastic.
A rocket is attached to the bottom and shoots through the center of the balloon. Since air is much thinner at high altitude, it takes less fuel to propel the rocket.
Group member Dahlon Lyles said the United States Air Force first used rocket balloons in the 1950s, but he hopes their design will get some attention.
“We’ve found recently that even NASA is using this for testing Mars re-entry vehicles. It has a lot of practical uses, and we’re hoping to develop new technologies that can be helpful to the community,” said Lyles
The group won an award for Best Design at the Global Space Balloon Challenge last spring. They have not successfully launched the rocket from the balloon, but Lyles said that is the next step.