If you want to be above all winds, you have to be above all atmosphere. But you can't get above all atmosphere with a ballon. There is no ballon lighter than a vacuum.
Conventional helium balloons get up to roughly 50 km, which is half way there in terms of altitude but a factor of almost 2,000 away in density.
- There have been hight altitude instrumentation balloons that reach nearly to 50 km.
- There have been demonstrations of ion wind propulsion at sea level at MIT (MIT EAD Airframe Version 2).
- There have been balloons in space, in orbit around Earth: 1, 2 3 (#3 is unanswered)
Suppose a big normal balloon were to loft our special balloon to 50 km where it inflated. What would be the technical challenges to getting it moving and rising up to the Karman line at 100 km or beyond with orbital velocity? Include photovoltaic, solar-thermal, radioisotope or other clever ways to make power and clever propulsion schemes, use state of the art materials and a substantial budget and R&D effort for this admittedly crazy demonstrator mission, and answer:
Question: What are the main technological challenges to sending a high altitude balloon to space and orbit starting from 50 km?
From NASA TM-X-74335/NOAA-S/T 76-1562: U.S. Standard Atmosphere, 1976
Altitude Pressure Temperature Density (km) (mbar) (K) (kg/m^3) ------- -------- ----------- ------- 50 7.6E-01 271 9.8E-04 100 3.2E-04 195 5.6E-07
For previous thinking in this area and sources of references, see also
- What is the most aerodynamic Satellite?
- What would it take for a balloon to reach an altitude of 65 km (214,000 ft) above the Earth's sea level?
- near space vacuum balloon
- Is GOCE a satellite or aircraft? in Aviation SE
- Would it have been cheaper and/or faster to put a James Webb-like Space Telescope on a balloon instead of a rocket?
- Power supply for (30km stratosphere) school's High Altitude Balloon project