ISDC2008 – Day 2 – Part 2

How many engineers does it take to replace a balloon?  The video, below, explores this complicated issue…

It seems that the balloon used in the Space Elevator Games venue mockup was leaking and losing some of it’s lift, so it had to be replaced.  In this video, we see Ben Shelef, founder of Spaceward and the creator of this exhibit doing just that.  First he had to untie one of the four tethers so that he could pull the ‘current’ balloon over close enough to him so he could work with it.  Then we see him replace the balloon with the new one and then have it returned to its original position.  He was ably assisted by Brian Turner and Ravi of the Kansas City Space Pirates.

All in all, a competent job 🙂

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrOlT9cGJ50[/youtube]

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Some things I learned (or relearned) about balloons and tethers today:

This balloon is filled with Helium, a monatomic (single atom) molecule.  This means that it will leak more than a balloon filed with Hydrogen, a diatomic (two-atom) molecule.  I may have learned this in High School, but probably not…

You’ll note that there are four tethers holding up the balloon.  Four was used, rather than three, for a very specific reason.  If you have four tethers and one of them snaps, this will not put any additional force on the tether/rope in the middle, the one being used for the racetrack.  However, if you have only three tethers and one of them snaps, then additional force can be put on the ‘racetrack’ tether, possibly causing it to snap.  And if a climber happens to be on it at the time, well, look out below…

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