Gas balloon


Gas balloon

A gas balloon is any balloon that stays aloft due to being filled with a gas less dense than air or lighter than air (such as helium or hydrogen). A gas balloon may also be called a Charlière for its inventor, the Frenchman Jacques Charles. Today, familiar gas balloons include large blimps and small rubber party balloons. Blimps have displaced zeppelins (which are not balloons) as the dominant form of airship.

History

The first gas balloon made its flight in August 1783. It carried no passengers or cargo, and popped when it reached too high an altitude. Later that same year, (1 December, 1783) a manned flight was made shortly after the first ascension in a hot air balloon (and indeed the first recorded ascension by man in any flying device).

Gas balloons remained popular throughout the age before powered flight. They could fly higher and further than hot-air balloons, but were more dangerous as they were usually filled with hydrogen gas (which, unlike helium, could be easily mass-manufactured). Gas balloons were used in the American Civil War, the Napoleonic Wars (to very limited extent), and throughout the 19th century by hobbyists and show performers such as the Blanchards.

Curiously, after flying to an altitude of over 3000 m on his first flight, Professor Charles never flew again.

Records

The altitude record for a manned balloon was set at 34.7 kilometers on April 5, 1961 by Malcolm Ross and Victor Prather in a balloon launched from the deck of the USS "Antietam" in the Gulf of Mexico.

The altitude record for an unmanned balloon is 53.0 kilometres. It was reached by a Fujikura balloon with a volume of 60 thousand cubic metres, launched in May 2002 from Sanriku, Iwate, Japan. This is the greatest height ever obtained by an atmospheric vehicle. [cite journal
last = Saito
first = Y
authorlink =
coauthors = et al
title = Development of a 2.8 µm film for scientific balloons
journal = Advances in Space Research
volume = 37
issue = 11
pages = 2026–2032
publisher = ELSEVIER
date = 00/2006
doi = 10.1016/j.asr.2005.05.053
url = http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2006AdSpR..37.2026S
accessdate = 2006-09-21
format = abstract
] Only rockets, rocket planes, and ballistic projectiles have flown higher.

On other planets

The Russian space probes Vega 1 and Vega 2 each dropped a helium balloon with scientific experiments into the atmosphere of Venus in 1985. The balloons first entered the atmosphere and descended to about 50 km, then inflated for level flight. Otherwise the flight was uncontrolled. Each balloon relayed wind and atmospheric conditions for 46 hours of a possible 60 hour electric battery power budget.

ee also

*Gordon Bennett Cup - famous long-distance gas balloon race
*Tethered helium balloon
*Double Eagle II - first manned balloon to cross the Atlantic Ocean
*Larry Walters - used a lawn chair and 45 helium-filled weather balloons to rise to convert|16000|ft|m|-2

References

External links

* [http://www.gasballooning.org/ Albuquerque Gas Ballooning Association] Hosts of the America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race
* [http://www.gasballooning.net Gas Ballooning.net] - current information on the state of sport gas ballooning by gas balloon pilot Brian Critelli from Texas, USA.
* [http://www.gasballon.be/uk/ Gas Ballon.be] - Belgian site with good gas balloon competition information
* [http://stratocat.com.ar/indexe.html Stratocat] - Historical recopilation project on the use of stratospheric balloons in the scientific research, the military field and the aerospace activity
* [http://www.aerophile.com/ Manufacturers of helium balloons]


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