What Is To Be Done

(as of Summer 2001)

(A) We will complete the production of a large ground-based burner/boiler combination. This unit will be a bulky and heavy piece of equipment, mounted upon a trailer. It will initially operate on solid fuel (anthracite/wood), but at a certain cost could easily be adapted for heating oil. The level of technology required is not challenging, but the scale is fairly hefty. In fact, this boiler we are making is much larger than needed for ground-filling the small balloon envelope that we have constructed. It would be quite adequate for filling a small steam airship.

(B) We intend to make the pioneering Steam Balloon flight. This will be a "naked dribble" type flight - see the discussion of flight modes here - no insulating jacket or flight boiler will be required. The actual flying equipment for this epochal flight is almost complete. We did previously intend to fill the envelope on the ground using a supply of steam provided from some industrial facility like a process factory, or using steam from a rented steam generator; but these have proved to be dead ends. We will use our own ground boiler, when it is completed.

Hopefully this first record-setting flight will attract great publicity - it certainly should! If this enables us to attract corporate support for the project we will be able to proceed at a much more steady pace.....

(C) We will then continue with a series of dribble flights in various conditions. As soon as possible we want to make some type of insulating jacket, so that we can start learning about the problems of ground-handling its great bulk in various conditions.

(D) We will continue with building a prototype flight boiler. This exact type of boiler has never been contemplated before, because the requirements of steam balloon flight are unique, so its development will require some evolution; the first one we build inevitably cannot be optimum in lightness or performance. The burner arrangements will not be straightforward either.

(E) When this flight boiler/burner combination has been thoroughly ground tested, we intend to fit it to our envelope and start test flights. Whether the current envelope will be adequate and suitable, cannot yet be determined; it all depends upon the weight budget and upon the ground test results.

(F) We are going to persevere with the program of experiments. Particularly, we want to elaborate the technique of making a large durable insulating jacket out of Primaloft; we rather think that a constructional technique a bit more technical than simple quilting is desirable. We also need to locate a ripstop nylon fabric with reflective polyester film laminated to both its sides, and to perform a condensation amount determination for it.

The next section shows the concrete details of the First Flight preparations.

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