Building on lessons learned building land based rovers, DroidFloater is a similar set of projects to explore the use of trackable High Altitude Balloons for research, education, and a little geek-entertainment.
All of the DroidFloater flights will include high resolution images of the payload areas from the edge of space, to offer anyone one-of-a-kind promotional space for their organization.
The DroidFloater projects are named ‘Pioneer’, after the early NASA unmanned missions:
Pioneer A Series:
A-series flights are proof-of-concept missions focused on testing tracking, materials, construction, and the overall flight timeline.
Pioneer B Series:
B-series flights will build on the A-series tests by reducing the weight of the tracking payload and adding additional test payload modules.
Payload modules range from small, simple, self contained experiment packages to larger cubesat style enclosures. B-series payloads will test capabilities intended to be offered as commercial and educational missions in future C and E series flights.
Pioneer C Series:
C-series flights begin the commercial application phase. Missions include data collection using existing DroidFloater modules flight-tested during B-series missions, or offering tethered lift-only of customer payload enclosures.
One example is the ability to image very large areas of the ground with high resolution color and infra-red sensors for use in land planning, agriculture, and flood damage assessment.
Another example is the transport of materials and processes to high altitude for experiment runs.
Pioneer E Series:
E-series flights allocate the payload for educational use, allowing school children an opportunity to develop and fly their own experiments, either as a class project in a cube style enclosure, or individually in smaller sizes (look up ‘pongsat’ for ideas). E-series flights are intended to be partially funded by community minded organizations, grants, and gifts, to ensure the door for education remains open.
Pioneer Z Series:
Z-series flights will loft heavier loads with a rigid framed helium envelope and multi-rotor power and directional control. This will offer lower altitude flight profiles, with the intention of delivering lander, rover, or rescue packages to pre-determined remote locations, or to offer loiter-in-place capability for temporary aerial imaging, data transfer and disaster coordination.
The Z-series are intended to be solar+battery powered, with a relatively high ratio of top surface area to cross-sectional profile. With neutral buoyancy from the lifting gas, solar power can be used for directional rotor power to provide positional control and station-keeping. Alternately the platform can be anchored to a ground station via lightweight Spectra lines with the majority of the electrical power allocated to data transfer.