Friday, October 12, 2012

Red Bull Stratos, approximation of balloon volume

Image of Red Bull Stratos project ad take of. The vlume of the helium baloon was about 1884.3 m3.
Red Bull's Stratos project is an exciting mission where Felix Baumgartner attempts a parachute jump from the stratosphere. A balloon made of polyethylene will transport Felix and his capsule into a height of more than 36000 meters. How much helium is required to achieve this? Red bull states that "The team will insert about 180,000 cubic feet / 5,097 cubic meters of helium at launch.". The above image shows the balloon at the failed launch on Oct. 9. 2012. I was interested and created a Python application to approximate the balloon volume. In order to estimate real dimensions I used the height of person (assumed to be 175 cm) right next to the balloon as reference length. Linear distance relationships within the picture were assumed (I know,...a very rough estimation). The total volume was approximated with:

where V (m3) is the volume, R (m) is the radius of spherical part of the balloon and H (m) is the height of the conical part of the balloon (from balloon bottom to center of spherical part). the which approximates. The total balloon volume in this picture is 1884.3 m3 and is just a rough approximation. That means the balloon had about 37 percent of its final launch volume.
REd Bull Stratos -
The Pythonapplication to calculate the volume -

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