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4 crazy ways of getting into space - that might actually get built:

20 Mar 2017, 23:06 UTC
4 crazy ways of getting into space - that might actually get built:
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The Rocket-Balloon*:Above: The rocket stage of a rocket-balloon (called the Bloostar) pulls away from its balloon stage.The idea of crossbreeding a balloon with a rocket sounds like madness doomed to end in a fiery explosion on a spectacular youtube video.But the idea has been around since the 1950's. To get to space a rocket must first punch through the Earth's atmosphere, which eats up a lot of extra fuel. So why not float the rocket to the top of the atmosphere on a balloon?Well, partly because that makes the rocket incredibly hard to steer, and partly because a rocket big enough to launch a useful satellite would need a balloon that was unfeasibly huge. One snapped cable and someone could be getting a fully fuelled space rocket through the roof of their house.This, of course, hasn't stopped people doing it: Sub-orbital sounding rockets, carrying simple and lightweight sensor packages, were launched in the 1950's. And that was as far as the rocket-balloon got, until the turn of the millennium when miniaturisation started to work its way into satellite technology. Today a useful space satellite can be small enough to hold in you hand, and the rocket needed to put it ...

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