Mr. Widget Aims at Space

Geek Culture

GeekDad reader Andy Rollins has sent along the link to this great story about Ken Schellenberg, an electrical engineer and obvious Geeky Dad, who has made it his goal to design an launch a bottle-rocket int orbit.

From a large workshop in a pasture behind his home on a wooded mountain plateau high above the Fraser River valley, Schellenberg designs and builds "state-of-the-art-technology" pop-bottle rockets.

They’re made by attaching plastic or cardboard fins to an empty bottle, punching a hole in the bottle top to act as a nozzle and pressurizing the bottle with air from a bicycle pump.

Add some water before pumping in the air and the bottle will go higher. Add a squirt of dish soap to the water and it goes even higher.

Schellenberg’s two-stage model is easily capable of reaching altitudes of well over 200 metres.

Several years ago, one of his "toy" rockets – actually a
Kevlar-reinforced, experimental, single-stage missile pressurized with compressed nitrogen and packing high-tech instruments – flew to just under 379 metres.

Based on that research, Schellenberg is now convinced that it will be possible to put a bottle rocket into orbit. In preparation, he’s working on sending a modified two-stage rocket – reinforced with ultra-strong carbon-fibre and fuelled by liquid CO2 – up about five kilometres.

Now, if he pulls that off, we GeekDads will have to chime in and add out two-cents: what about including a gps-enabled payload – say, some kind of glider with an auto-shooting digital camera attached – to take pictures on the way back down to a soft landing back at the launch pad?  Sound like a plan?  Read the rest of the article here.  And thanks, Andy!!

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