"For the release of our latest FDM printer, we wanted to do something remarkable," says Pieter-Jan Vandendriessche, founder of Tripodmaker.
A weather balloon filled with over 2000 liters of Helium took a 3D printed rocket to an altitude of 30 km in less than 2 hours. Helium is a lot lighter than air, about 1 liter of helium can lift 1 gram of payload. The total payload was about 1.2 kg, but the additional helium added extra lift to get the balloon to the specific height in no time.
When the balloon goes up, the air pressure drops as gravity drops away because of the distance from earth. In the stratosphere, at an altitude of 30 km, the air pressure is less than 50% than at sea level, causing the balloon to expand. Eventually, when stretched too far, the balloon bursts and at that point, decent begins.
It wasn’t just some random rocket that was launched into space. It was the rocket from the famous comic book character TinTin, written by Hergé. An obvious choice, knowing both TinTin and Tripodmaker are Belgian. Also, an excellent time-lapse video was created during the printing process of the rocket.
During the flight, a video was taken, and a parachute brought the camera back down safely. It landed nearly 200km away from the launch site. A GPS device connected to a mobile network allowed them to track the camera to its location.
In total, the flight took about 4 hours from take-off to landing. "We found our space module in an open field and were quite lucky that is was not in a tree, on the road, or on a roof of a building," explains Pieter-Jan. "Finding it back was the most exciting part."
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Press release by Tripodmaker
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