The success of this flight depends on diligent planning, a good weather system, piloting expertise, and reliable equipment.
A gas balloon's fuel is whatever can be considered disposable ballast, generally sand or water. The lighter the system, the more ballast you can carry and the longer you can stay aloft. Thanks to composite construction and other modern light-weight gear, our system will lift off with more than 75% of its weight in disposable ballast - a very high percentage. The entire system is designed with overall simplicity and reliability as the primary goals.
The capsule was built in Albuquerque by Composite Tooling. It is a Kevlar/carbon-fiber composite, giving it tremendous strength at a very light weight (about 220 lbs or 100 kg). It is designed to withstand the impact of a hard landing and provide shelter from whatever inhospitable conditions may be encountered.
The capsule's interior is 7 feet long, 5 feet high, and 5 feet wide. It is like a closet with a 5 foot ceiling and smaller in area than a king size bed. It is non-pressurized, so the two pilots will have to be on oxygen whenever they are flying above 12,000 feet.
Depending on the weather and flight profile, the balloon will most likely carry about 10,000 lbs. (4,500 kg) of sand. The sand bags are hung on the outside of the capsule and are color coded to aid the pilots in keeping track of sand usage.
Our 350,000 cubic foot / 10,000 cubic meter (AA-13) balloon envelope was constructed by Bert Padelt. Bert is a master craftsman whose balloons are well known for their rugged construction, light weight, and impermeability to gas loss. There are many safety features incorporated into the envelope to guard against over pressurization while maintaining rapid deflation for safety at the conclusion of the flight. [ Click here for illustratrated description ]
We will have an array of state-of-the-art navigation and communications equipment onboard. A high altitude heater, designed by balloon engineer and pilot Tim Cole, will keep the pilots comfortable in the sub-freezing temperatures at 25,000 feet.