Falling Back to Earth | HD Footage From Space

If something is imporant enough, you should try.
Even if the probable outcome is failure.

I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary.

Elon Musk

Why am I here today?

I don't think the human race will survive the next thousand years, unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I'm an optimist. We will reach out to the stars.

Stephen Hawking

To our knowledge, life exists on only one planet, Earth. If something bad happens, it's gone. I think we should establish life on another planet - Mars in particular - but we 're not making very good progress. SpaceX is intended to make that happen. The extension of life beyond Earth is the most important thing we can do as a species.

I'd like to die on Mars, just not on impact.

Elon Musk

It is in the long run essential to the growth of any new and high civilization that small groups of men can escape from their neighbors and from their government, to go and live as they please in the wilderness. A truly isolated, small, and creative society will never again be possible on this planet.

Freeman J. Dyson

Life in Space is Dangerous. So is Life on Earth.

Solar luminosity has increased by 20% over the last 3 billion years. Photosynthesis and carbonates depleted `CO_2` from >20% to 0.4%.

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia, Heinrich D. Holland

You want to have a future, where you're expecting things to be better, not one where you're expecting things to be worse.

Elon Musk

  • Decrease `CO_2`
    • Enforced Stagnation and Poverty
    • Reduced Plant Growth / Crop Yields
    • Higher Plants extinct in 600 Million Years
    • Runaway-Greenhouse in 1.1 Billion Years
  • Do Nothing
    • Runaway-Greenhouse
  • Shade Earth from Space
    • Solar Energy
    • Solution for Solar Variations and Greenhouse Gases
  • Change Earth Orbit
    • Science Fiction

If the idea is accepted that the world’s resources are fixed with only so much to go around, then each new life is unwelcome, each unregulated act or thought is a menace, every person is fundamentally the enemy of every other person, and each race or nation is the enemy of every other race or nation.

The ultimate outcome of such a worldview can only be enforced stagnation, tyranny, war, and genocide. The horrific crimes advocated or perpetrated by antihumanism’s devotees over the past two centuries prove this conclusively.

Only in a world of unlimited resources can all men be brothers.

Robert Zubrin

The Case for Mars

Popular Science, March 1965


Average Temperature: 210 K / -63 °C
Solar Irradiance: 590 W/`m^2` (Earth: 1_350 W/`m^2`)

Credit: NASA/JPL

About 4 Billion Years Ago, Mars had Liquid Water and Atmosphere

Credit: NASA

Martian Soil has been sucessfully used to grow plants

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech, SAM/GSFC

30 Pa (Mount Olympus) - 636 Pa - 1_155 Pa (Hellas Planitia)
Breathable with Compressor and Greenhouse
Produce Rocket Fuel

Gravitation: 0.376 g
Day-Length: 24h 37m 22s

Credit: NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory/JSC

Atmosphere equivalent to about 30-35km altitude

Ground 0.08 µSv/h
Passenger Jet 3 µSv/h
Mars (Hellas Planitia) 5 µSv/h
Mars (Curiosity) 9 µSv/h
Concorde 9 µSv/h
ISS 27 µSv/h
Interplanetary Space 75 µSv/h

I see NASA heading down the wrong path. The agency’s current Vision for Space Exploration will waste decades and hundreds of billions of dollars trying to reach the moon by 2020—a glorified rehash of what we did 40 years ago.

We shouldn’t be dependent on a program that can be cancelled once we’ve gone and returned. We need to start something that has a self-sustaining nature.

Buzz Aldrin

Credit: Wikipedia / Eric Machmer


The rocket worked perfectly except for landing on the wrong planet.
Wernher von Braun

1903 Wright Brothers 9 m 13 m/s 274 kg
1937 Hindenburg 200 m 38 m/s 60_000 kg 200_000 `m^3`
1947 Bell X-1 (Supersonic) 21_916 m 444 m/s 5_545 kg
1949 V2 Rocket 206_000 m 1_600 m/s 12_500 kg
1952 De Havilland Comet 13_000 m 206 m/s 50_000 kg
1955 U2 Dragon Lady 21_300 m 224 m/s 18_144 kg
1957 Sputnik 223_000 m 7_780 m/s 84 kg
1959 X-15 107_800 m 1_700 m/s 15_420 kg
1961 Yuri Gagarin 326_200 m 4_725 kg 6 `m^3`
1961 Malcom D. Ross 34_668 m 280_000 `m^3`
1966 - 1999 Lockheed SR-71 25_929 m 980 m/s 78_000 kg
1969 - 1972 6 Apollo Missions 395_369_948 m 10_834 m/s 44_000 kg 13 `m^3`
1973 - 1979 Skylab 434_000 m 7_769 m/s 68_175 kg 351 `m^3`
1976 - 2003 Concorde 18_300 m 605 m/s 78_700 kg
1974 AstroFlight Sunrise 22_250 m 6 m/s 12 kg
1981 - 2011 Space Shuttle 574_000 m 68_585 kg 71.5 `m^3`
1986 - 2001 MIR 360_000 m 7_700 m/s 29_700 kg 350 `m3`
1991 Franz Viehböck
1998- ISS 410_000 m 7_660 m/s 419_455 kg 916 `m^3`
2001 NASA Helios 29_524 m 75 m/s 600 kg
2006 Airbus Perlan I 15_460 m 75 m/s 630 kg
2012 Felix Baumgartner 38_969 m 377 m/s 850_000 `m^3`

Many of the best ideas come out of personal frustration.

Sir Richard Branson

Can we afford Spaceflight?

`E_g = ( m M G ) / r_1^2 - ( m M G ) / r_2^2`
Gravitational Potential Energy

`E_k = ( m v^2 ) / 2`
Kinetic Energy

Orbit Altitude Potential Energy Velocity Kinetic Energy Total Energy
from Equator
from Concorde
410_000 m 3_782_407 J
3_716_257 J
3_537_462 J
7_660 m/s 29_337_800 J
25_884_012 J
21_747_012 J
33_120_660 J
(-11%) 29_600_269 J
(-24%) 25_284_474 J
Geostationary 35_786_000 m 53_109_673 J 3_070 m/s 4_712_450 J 57_822_123 J
Moon 400_000_000 m 61_583_937 J 1_022 m/s 522_242 J 62_106_179 J

1kWh = 3_600_000J

Problem #1: Throw-Away Rockets

It turned out that the materials cost of a rocket was around 2 percent of the typical price. But really, if humanity is to become multi-planetary, the fundamental breakthrough that needs to occur in rocketry is a rapidly and completely reusable rocket. The cost of the propellant on Falcon 9 is only about 0.3 percent of the total price. So if the vehicle costs $60 million, the propellant is maybe a couple hundred thousand dollars.
Elon Musk

Vehicle Mass Dry Mass Final Mass Payload to LEO Payload to GTO Payload to Mars Launch Price
Saturn V 2_909_200 kg 183_600 kg 13_500 kg 140_000 kg 44_450 kg 185_000_000 USD
Proton M 691_145 kg 49_270 kg 2_370 kg 13_150 kg 6_700 kg
Space Shuttle 2_030_000 kg 185_085 kg 68_585 kg 27_500 kg 3_810 kg 450_000_000 USD
SpaceX Falcon 9 541_300 kg 13_150 kg 4_850 kg 61_200_000 USD
SpaceX Falcon Heavy 1_394_000 kg 53_000 kg 21_200 kg 13_200 kg 90_000_000 USD
Boeing 737-600 66_000 kg 36_378 kg 57_000_000 USD

Problem #2: The Rocket Equation

`Delta v = v_e ln(m_f / m_e)`

`v_e = g_0 I_(sp)`

Credit: Wikipedia/Kashkhan

Engine / Fuel `I_(sp)` `v_e` Mix Ratio Density Melting Point Boiling Point
`LO_2` 1_141 kg/`m^3` 54 K 90 K
RP-1 358 s 3_510 m/s 2.58:1 820 kg/`m^3` 200 K 420 K
RD-253 / Proton M 285 s 2_795 m/s
NK-33 / Soyuz 331 s 3_240 m/s
SpaceX Merlin 1D 310 s 3_010 m/s
Concorde 3_012 s 29_553 m/s
Boeing 747 5_950 s 58_400 m/s
`LH_2` 455 s 4_462 m/s 4:1 71 kg/`m^3` 14 K 20 K
Space Shuttle 453 s 4_423 m/s
75% `C_2H_5OH` (V2 Rocket) 239 s 2_344 m/s 1.29:1 870 kg/`m^3` 159 K 351 K
Liquid `CH_4` 369 s 3_615 m/s 3.21:1 423 kg/`m^3` 90 K 112 K

If we want to break the tyranny of the rocket equation, new paradigms of operating and new technology will be needed. The discovery of some new physical principle could break the tyranny and allow Earth escape outside the governance of the rocket paradigm. The need for new places to live and resources to use will eventually beckon humanity off this planet. Having access to space removes the lid from the Petri dish of Earth. And we all know what eventually happens if the lid is not removed.
Don Pettit, NASA Astronaut

Solution #1: Lighter than Air

Avoid Max-Q, Aerodynamic Stall and Coffin Corner
L/D-Ratio: Sailplane: 50, U2 25.6, Concorde: 7.5, Space Shuttle: 1

High Altitude Ballooning - Popular in UK, US, DE, CH,...
Typical: GPS/RTTY Tracker + Camera
SSDV, Pico/Floaters, Sending Things into Space

OeWF Project Passepartout, 2007-2012

Altitude Record: BU60-1 53_000m, May 23, 2002
Live Tracker:
UK High Altitude Society

UK: Less than 2m or with Permission
US: Less than 6lb or with Permission
CH: Less than 2kg or with Permission
DE: Less than 500g or with Permission
AT: No

Gas Density (kg/`m^3`) Lifting Power
Air 1.292 `PV=nRT`
`He` 0.178 1.114
`H_2` 0.090 1.202

Helium on Earth is from radioactive decay - rare, expensive, limited
Important for Science (CERN), Medicine (MRI), Deep Sea Diving
Hydrogen is flammable but easy to make and more efficient

Altitude Pressure Temperature Density Volume Area Weight Lift
0 m 101_325 Pa 288 K 1.225 kg/`m^3`
4.83 `m^2`
10_000 m 26_500 Pa 223 K 0.41351 kg/`m^3` 2.96 `m^3` 9.98 `m^2` g N
20_000 m 5_529 Pa 217 K 0.088909 kg/`m^3` 13.8 `m^3` 27.9 `m^2` g N
30_000 m 1_185 Pa 231 K 0.017861 kg/`m^3` 68.6 `m^3` 81.1 `m^2` g N
40_000 m 300 Pa 261 K 0.0040028 kg/`m^3` 306 `m^3` 220 `m^2` g N
50_000 m 88 Pa 283 K 0.0010829 kg/`m^3` 1_131 `m^3` 524 `m^2` g N
60_000 m 3 Pa 256 K 0.00037307 kg/`m^3` 30_022 `m^3` 4_680 `m^2` g N

Solution #2: Aerodynamic Lift

Avoid Atmospheric Drag

`F_L = ( p v^2 A C_L ) / 2`

`C_L = 2 pi alpha`
`alpha` = AoA in Radians = `pi` / 180

`F_D = ( p v^2 A C_D ) / 2`

Lift and Drag decrease with Altitude and Pressure

`F = m v^2 / r`

Centripetal Force increases with Velocity

The Kármán line is the altitude where the speed necessary to aerodynamically support the airplane's full weight equals orbital velocity (assuming wing loading of a typical airplane). In practice, supporting full weight wouldn't be necessary to maintain altitude because the curvature of the Earth adds centrifugal lift as the airplane reaches orbital speed.

v = 7_847 m/s
ISS orbits in Atmosphere / Thermosphere

Credit: Wikipedia: Bhamer

Average Drag on ISS: 0.9N (~100 g)
Satellite lifespan is limited by fuel for station keeping

Credit: Heavens-Above

Solution #3: Solar Energy

Provide Energy to Orbit with Minimal Weight

`LH_2 // LO_2`: ~13_000_000 J/kg
Li-Ion Battery: ~200 Wh/kg ~720_000 J/kg (~1/50 for LEO)
Solar: 430 W/kg (2.5W 125*125mm 2.5W 5.8g, 21h to LEO)
1000 W/kg possible
+37% Solar Intensity above Atmosphere: 1_366 W/`m^2`
Increased Photovoltaic Efficiency at Lower Temperatures

Credit: Egbert R. Messmer: Solar Cell Efficiency vs. Module Power Output

Ideal Charge Controller:
Disconnect while Solar Power < Power for Step-Up
Step-Up while Solar Voltage < Battery Voltage
Pass-Through while wasted Power < Power for Step-Down
MPPT Step-Down
Disconnect if Battery full

Solution #4: Electro-Aerodynamic Propulsion

Low Weight, High Efficiency, No Propellant

Credit: Wikipedia/MenteMagica

is capable of a much higher efficiency than any combustion reaction device, such as a rocket or jet thrust-production device.
offers nearly miraculous potential.
Ned Allen, Chief Scientist, Lockheed Martin

Moshe Einat, Roy Kalderon: High efficiency Lifter based on the Biefeld-Brown effect

Newtonian Explanation: Ion Wind
Better: Electrostatic Forces / Coulomb Law
Direct Conversion of Electric to Kinetic Energy

`F = ( q_1 q_2 ) / ( 4 pi epsilon_0 r^2 )`

`q = C V`

`C = (epsilon A) / d`

Asymmetric Capacitor
High Density of Charge Carriers and Field

Credit: Moshe Einat, Roy Kalderon: High efficiency Lifter based on the Biefeld-Brown effect

A thrust-to-power ratio as high as approximately 100 `N kW^(-1)` was obtained.
Kento Masuyama, Steven R. H. Barrett
On the performance of electrohydrodynamic propulsion

We estimate a maximum thrust per unit area of 3.3 `N m^(−2)` and a maximum thrust per unit volume of 15 `N m^(−3)`,
Christopher K. Gilmore, Steven R. H. Barrett
Electrohydrodynamic thrust density using positive corona-induced ionic winds for in-atmosphere propulsion


  • Hardware: Raspberry Pi, 45g, 1 - 10 W
  • Sensors
    • Temperature
    • Pressure
    • Humidity
    • Acceleration
    • Rotation
    • Compass
  • Navigation
    • GPS
    • Satellite-TLE
    • ADS-B

Other Applications

  • Backup-Navigation for Aircraft
  • High Altitude UAVs
    • Earth Science
    • Astronomy
    • Communication (Over-The-Horizon)
  • Propulsion for Satellites
  • Near-Space Tourism
  • Atmospheric Entry without Heat-Shield
  • Suitable for Mars Atmosphere
  • Propulsion for Airplanes and Ships

References / Recommendations

Robert Zubrin - On the Way to Starflight Economics of Interstellar Breakout
A life on mars | Joseph Roche | TEDxDublin
Getting humanity to Mars: Bas Lansdorp at TEDxDelft
Wernher von Braun explains the possibility to reach the Moon. "Man and the Moon", Dec. 28, 1955
Rocket and Space Technology - Robert A. Braeunig
Naval Academy Balloon Missions
Amateur Radio High Altitude Ballooning
UK High Altitude Society
The Mars Homestead For An Early Mars Scientific Settlement


The Blue Marble, Earth as seen by Apollo 17

Failure is an option here.
If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.

It is important to take as much feedback as you can,
from as many people as you can,
about whatever idea you have.

Elon Musk