Those of, cough, my generation, will remember watching with awe as a President’s clear and concise statement of intent was brought to fruition, played out on our monochrome TV sets as grainy, ghostly images accompanied by words that will last for as long as mankind. And thus were inspired a generation of astronauts, space-followers, scientist and engineers.
Space travel remains, for now, beyond the reach of most, but near-space has never been more accessible. All you need is a big balloon and some helium, though if you want to get back whatever you attach to the balloon then you’ll need rather more! Suitable tracking devices can be made fairly easily, or purchased complete, allowing you to send up cameras and experiments with the reasonable expectation of seeing them again.
The view from near space is spectacular enough, with the blackness of space above and the delicate thin blue line of our atmosphere circling the Earth above the horizon, but it’s often the case that launchers like to add something; advertisers love to launch their logos, kids (of all ages….) love to launch teddy bears, and geeks love to launch space-related models, such as the Shuttle MMU that I launched last year.
This year is the 50’th anniversary of that moon landing, with the launch on 16th July, landing on 20th July, return launch on 21st July, and splashdown in the Pacific on 24th July. To commemorate the achievement, both Revell and Lego have models that you can purchase and build, but not all of them are of practical size (or even weight!) for a high altitude balloon flight! I settled on the Revell Apollo 11 Columbia & Eagle kit, which is small and light, with pretty good detail.
It’s 60 parts, with glue, gold foil, paint and brush included (but not all the colours required!). You’ll also need a craft knife, tweezers, brush cleaner and ideally some different size brushes.
The kit includes parts for the command module (CM):
the service module:
and the lunar lander (LEM). Here you can see the CSM (Command and Service Module), plus the LEM ascent stage and descent stage.
and here it is all assembled:
Depending on wind predictions and weather, I’ll fly this at some point during the Apollo 11 anniversary.