Welcome to Near Space Ventures

Venturing to the edge of space

 

Very few people have images from the edge of space in their personal photo albums--snapshots in which a hazy blue atmosphere hugs the curve of our planet against a backdrop of the black abyss beyond. But of those who do, many are amateurs, average people, taking regular trips deep into the stratosphere and peering out from the edge of Earth. Their hobby, high altitude ballooning has been called the "poor man's space program," because they are probing an environment more similar to that found on Mars than to any down here on Earth.

The Exploration

 

Near space exploration is the perfect meld of Amateur Radio, technology, science, and wonder (especially the wonder). After all, who hasn't watched a balloon float gently up into the sky and wondered what it would be like to venture into the stars with it? On-board cameras take photographs from various altitudes allowing us to see whole cities or states and the curvature of Earth in a single image.

Members of Near Space Ventures are among some of the lucky people who have photos of this kind in their collections and they are looking for more adult and youth to take part in their next and future launches.

The Process

 

The process of launching a near space craft involves prepping the capsule, filling a balloon and the release. But getting to this process is another journey of its own filled with the excitement of designing, building and launching your own high altitude balloon.... ascent rates are typically 800 - 1000 feet per minute, with flights taking 2 - 3 hours to reach apogee. The flight is terminated when the balloon bursts or is cut away. A parachute is pre-deployed at launch but at these altitudes the parachute cannot effectively slow down the capsule, descent rates in excess of 100 mph are often experienced. At approximately 15,000 feet the air becomes dense enough to significantly slow the capsule in preparation for a soft landing and recovery. But even before that weather conditions have to be studied, electronic timers for cameras have to be built, radios must be tuned, and the experiments themselves must be designed, created, tested, built and stowed in the capsule for launch.

Near Space Ventures, Inc is a not-for-profit Missouri Corporation dedicated to the advancement of Aerospace Education with an emphasis on low cost access to Near Space. Using high altitude balloons and amateur radio to launch Simulated Satellite payloads (SimSats or nearsats) into Near Space, at or above 100,000 feet. They are the recipients of the Central Region 2006 Frank G. Brewer Award. This recognition is given to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions, out of selfless devotion, to the advancement of youth in aerospace activities.

Deb and Keith with Cindy and Troy at the Frank G Brewer Award Presentation March 14, 2008.