All Hands Research part I – Satellite Balloons Above Flat Earth

Sending equipment into the atmosphere with use of balloons is not something of the last decade. This technique has been used for many years. In this post I will discuss some things I have found about satellite balloons. These balloons are substitutes for those satellites that supposedly are in orbit around earth.

In a couple of numbers of the All hands archive I found information about the use of these balloons. There is a lot of detailed information, even some of the information in these articles may be propaganda from that era, it will be very interesting!


Satellite balloons

The first article is about the sending of 100 balloons into the atmosphere for high altitude research in chemistry and physics. There is also a mention of August Piccard, the first man who entered the stratosphere with use of a balloon.

‘’TO 700,000 FEET BY BALLOONS Clusters of balloons designed to lift a gondola of scientific instruments and two observers to an altitude of 100,000 feet will be employed by the Navy this year in its explorations of the atmosphere. The Office of Naval Research has entered into a contract for construction of the balloons, and for the services of Dr. Jean Piccard, noted aeronaut. One hundred balloons, each 57 feet in diameter, will support the 400-pound aluminum gondola, its equipment, Dr. Piccard and a Navy pilot not yet named. It’s all part of the Navy’s program of high altitude research in chemistry and physics. If successful, the cluster balloons would erase the previous high-altitude record set in 1935 by Capt. Albert W. Stevens and Capt. Orvil A. Anderson of the Army, who hold the distinction of having ascended higher than any other humans- 72,395 feet. Use of clusters of balloons, Dr. Piccard believes, gives greater control and eliminates inflation hazards as the higher, rarefied regions are reached. It is planned that the “skyhook” laboratory will be held at an altitude of 100,000 feet for hours, while controlled scientific measurements are made, something impossible in unmanned balloons and rockets streaking at mile-second speeds. Dr. Piccard has been experimenting since 1937 with cluster balloons, and has made successful ascents to comparatively low altitudes. The Navy-sponsored ascent is planned in mid-June from NAS, Ottumwa, Iowa. It will be Dr. Jean Piccard’s first trip to the stratosphere since 1934 when he and his pilot wife, Jeannette, ascended to 57,979 feet. Dr. Piccard is twin brother of the noted August Piccard, who made the first stratosphere ascent-51,795 feet in 1931 in Bavaria.’’




Hurricoon, a Satellite balloonSkyhook balloon with gondola

The next article is about the skyhook balloon ‘’Hurricoon’’. This balloon was made to make pictures of hurricanes. This is done to gather information about weather. The camera makes pictures on a ball shaped mirror to capture a bigger area. Also time-lapse pictures were taken by this balloon.

‘’The Navy has a new apparatus for getting the goods on Connie, Diane, Hazel and the other “wicked ladies” who’ve been raising hob on the East Coast in recent years. Dubbed the Hurricoon, the apparatus is simply a Skyhook plastic balloon equipped with a camera gondola. From an altitude of about 80,000 feet it will make a continuing, panoramic, picture story of a hurricane as part of a joint effort by the Navy, Air Force and Weather

Bureau to learn more about these devastating storms. In order to get over a hurricane the balloon will take advantage of a high-altitude wind reversal which occurs during the summer in middle latitudes. It will probably be released at the Naval Air Facility, Weeksville, N. C., rising to an altitude between 30,000 and 70,000 feet. From the coast it will drift out over the ocean until it reaches its “turn-around-point,” where it will be directed by radio to ascend to 80,000 feet. At that height it will enter shoreward-moving air currents which will carry it back over the storm. When it reaches a satisfactory recovery point its flight will be terminated and its instruments will be parachuted to earth.

Hurricoon is rigged so that a 35-mm flight camera, dangling on wires below it, is focused on a large ball with a mirror-like surface. Once a minute, for 12 hours or more, the camera will photograph the reflection on the ball. Since the visual horizon at 80,000 feet is about 320 miles, the reflection will show an area of more than 300,000 square miles.

In addition to its radio equipment and the panoramic setup, the balloon will carry a second camera to make time-lapse pictures of cloud tops and a third to photograph the balloon’s instruments. The instrument-panel shots, synchronized with the panoramic camera, will tell where the balloon was and how it was oriented for each of the panoramic photos. Besides Hurricoon, the Navy will gather hurricane data with lower altitude balloons, specially-instrumented buoys and picture-taking rockets that chase the lady killers.’’



Radiosonde balloons

Previous temperature recorders calibrated outside temperature against altitude, humidity and other atmospheric conditions. Application of the submarine “u-cape hatch” principle to the WV-3 resulted in installation of a small, pressure equalization chamber tor use in releasing radiosonde balloons. it enables the weather-recording balloons to be released from within the airplane, at altitude, without depressurizing the main cabin.

The balloons return to earth, transmitting temperature, humidity and dew point information en route. The WV-3, like its sister plane, has a galley for meals aloft and bunks for off-duty crews. Cabins are pressurized to maintain 10,600-toot comfort at 25,000 feet. The interior can be kept at 75 degrees despite 60-below-zero temperatures outside.

(ALL HANDS APRIL 1956 number 470  p40.)



After seeing this information it is clear that there were many uses of satellite balloons back then. The use of this will be much more elaborate today. Striking about these techniques is that there is not much information being released about this today, and that always the use is always is being awarded to satellites that are supposedly in orbit.

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