Friday, January 06, 2006

What is Near Space?

Amateur radio enthusiasts and high-altitude balloons combine to put space research within reach of anyone with the know-how and a spare $1000.
Near Space is generally considered the area of atmosphere between 75,000 feet and 62.5 miles above sea level. The machines used to explore this region are called 'nearcraft'; reusable ships equipped with a multitude of instruments to record conditions, images, even collect particles.

Near Space is not quite 'space' but it has many of the same characteristics, making it ideal for research and study by those of limited means--meaning, it can be done on the cheap.

JP Aerospace is currently designing various use nearcraft; Arizona Near Space Research, amateur radio balloon group has conducted 26 successful high-altitude balloon flights (and payload recovery) up to 104,000 feet; Kansas Near Space Project helps local students design and build their own "spacecraft" to test in the near space environment.

The best part about nearspace is its accessibility to everyone with a hankering for space exploration and a little extra money to burn....

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