Support and Sponsorship.

dstoWe have DSTO a new Sponsor and also a University in Discussions.

I am pleased to announce that the Australian Government is helping Jason with the Phase 1 flight of ThunderStruck. They have come on board through the Defence Scientific and Technology Organisation (DSTO). They have supported us from the start but are now officially sponsors for the flight. They have offered equipment, test facilities and advice as part of the package making the value of their assistance very impressive. They have been slotted in as a Silver Sponsor based on the total value to the Project.

A Local University

Early in the new year I will be able to tell you about arrangements with a Sydney based University that has a strong interest in the project. I expect that there will be some work for interns and other people as the project ramps up. Legal documents have to be finalised before any announcement is made. Stay tuned.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)

So far I have had strong support from CASA in the area of demonstrating Safety. It unfortunately does not meet their rules for sponsorship, but there may be the possibility of information about ThunderStruck to be included in a number of their publications. Work is progressing. We are not ready to submit our request for an “Area Approval” for the flight, but this is imminent. I need to visit Longreach before we can proceed.

Longreach Mayor

Discussions with the Mayor of Longreach have been positive, but at this early stage, anything is possible. I will visit Longreach in January to check the area and see if it is suitable. More on that as we progress.

Model Aero Clubs

We are seeking support from them and it has been a requirement that it be seen that we are working with CASA before we will get support. They are being careful to protect themselves from claims that they are doing the wrong thing. Until we make the formal request from CASA, we will not get more than some basic help from these groups.

Platinum Sponsor

We have 2 contenders and both are major telecommunications providers. They both have proposals on the table from us that they are considering. One possibility is to have a mobile phone video the release from the balloon and relay it live to the ground via the local mobile phone network.

Australian Space Research Institute (ASRI)

We are hoping to get some discussions and support early in the new year. We have made contact and looking forward to how we can engage fully with ASRI.

How You Can Help

We need:

  • Technology – much off the shelf such as found in electronics stores
  • assistance with the airframe – Sydney Based is preferred
  • funding to buy what can’t be sponsored
  • vehicle usage / rental; accommodation; Petrol; 4 wheeled trailer with good suspension.
  • HAM Radio gear
  • Labour / help in general when things need to be moved and/or tested.
  • Anyone with graphics capabilities to create some pictures and animation

You can also link to our pages and tell everyone about the project.

Super Sale – 24 Hours Only

IMG_7340Super Sale – Weather Balloons, HAB Flights and More – 24Hrs

Live in Australia?

Tuesday 23th December 2014 4pm to Wednesday 24th Dec 2104 4pm:

We are, as always, raising funds for our Project ThunderStruck. Live in Australia and want weather balloons, want us to take your payload to the Stratosphere, or want to rent HAM radio tracking gear?

Sale Ends 4pm Wednesday 24th Dec 2015

Learn to Launch and Recover HABs

HABs? High Altitude Balloons. We can do just about anything. We can even take you along with us and show you how its done. It is the full course on flying payloads into the stratosphere. Just $500 per car and you drive your own vehicle – it must be in good condition and suitable for dirt roads.. We launch from west of West Wyalong in southern central part of NSW. The course is hands on and you will get to have a tracking radio in the car and be part of the recovery team. You cover all your own personal costs including road assistance coverage, etc.. You will also need a wireless enabled tablet – preferably Telstra connected and a mobile phone, again preferable with Telstra connectivity. Conditions apply. We may be flying this weekend. Maximum people in one car for the above price is three.

Balloons for Sale

We current have 30 x 100 gram balloons at $10 each + $15 delivery for 1 or 10. We have 2 x 500 gram balloons for $100 delivered in Australia by express post, a 350 gram balloon at $75 delivered in Australia express post and some older 3Kg balloons for $200 each – no guarantees. They are probably 3 years old, but that is all I know.


We can even rent you 3.4 cubic metre helium bottles (Size E) and balloon regulators. These need to picked up from and returned to Sydney and require substantial deposit of $700 per bottle fully refundable. At this stage it is cash only as we do not carry credit cards. It is also $2 per day per bottle after 1 week’s rental if overdue – conditions apply.

Radios, GPS, Cameras

The HAM radio equipment includes:

  • Yaesu GPS enabled APRS tracker VX-8 two way radio – VHF / UHF dual band
  • Byonics MT-400 APRS trackers – pre-configured with your call sign and SSD
  • GPS units for MT-400
  • Spot 2 and Spot 3 trackers
  • GoPro cameras with external connections for Lithium Iron batteries
  • Lithium Iron Batteries and charger
  • antennas

Send your Mascot or Sign to Near Space?

We can do it for $1,200, down for the sale from 1,500 and that was a special deal already – marked down from $3,000. Conditions apply.


Sale ends at 4pm Wednesday 24 December 2015 EDST

A 50% deposit must be made tomorrow (Wednesday) at a CBA branch OVER THE COUNTER to get this sale discount or goods with the balance on most items by Wednesday. This sale ends Monday at 4pm, but call me to negotiate a price after 4pm. For details on the rental of radio equipment and gas bottles – you can call me on 0467 545 755

Want to see when we have the next sale. Subscribe to our RSS feed to get our posts and be ready.

Australia’s First Real Spacecraft

ThunderStruck mk2ThunderStruck Spacecraft – a First for Australia

Yes, Australia has built vehicles that have gone into space, but ThunderStruck will not be an orbiting satellite. It will be a vehicle that has propulsion other than that used for orbital watch-keeping. It is being designed to have both an Ion Engine for long distance travel and also a high DeltaV for rendezvous and reentry control.

So what is DeltaV?

Simply: Delta-V, or dV as it’s sometimes abbreviated, is a measure of the total amount of acceleration (or deceleration) your ship can output. Skip down to the next heading if you hate maths!

Mathematically, delta-V takes the form: delta-V = ln(M/Mo)* Isp *go

where delta-V is the change in velocity, ln is the natural logarithm function (look for it on a scientific calculator, or use =LN() in MS Excel), M is the full mass of the rocket stage, Mo is the dry mass of the rocket stage (i.e. what it weighs when all its fuel tanks are empty), go is standard gravity (9.81 m/s2 regardless of what body you’re orbiting/launching from) and Isp is the specific impulse of the engine (a way of measuring the engine’s efficiency). It’s importance, is in determining the total magnitude of the changes the rocket may make to its velocity before it runs out of fuel; in the process it determines where a rocket may go given a certain mission profile. There are three main ways of increasing a rocket’s delta-V:

1) improving propellant mass fraction (i.e. more fuel)
2) increasing specific impulse (by selecting an engine combination that increases this value
3) staging (shedding mass that’s no longer needed, which has the effect of improving the propellant mass fraction)

ThunderStruck’s Range

With an Ion engine, we expect it to be huge, but this spacecraft is designed to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and land, so we have to slow and return. Basically, however long we took to get there, will also be how long it takes to slow. We will have some ways of beating that equation, but for now, we have to understand that Ion engines have an appallingly low DeltaV. That is why we need strong thrusters for the craft and a radically different system to make the craft more versatile. None the less, ThunderStruck¬† is being built for orbit but also for round trips to the Moon, Mars and Asteroids. With an upper design payload of around 50Kg, it should be able to handle significant experiments. The most appealing destination for long flights is of course the asteroid belt. ThunderStruck’s main role as a space taxi will be to meet with survey vessels to bring back payloads. The survey vessel will need to be able to rendezvous with ThunderStruck, remove the empty container and load the full container for the trip back to earth.

ThunderStruck is a Space Taxi – but not for people

Most craft are built uniquely for every mission. ThunderStruck is a “space taxi” built to a standard design. it will have a payload that will be able to be opened to space for any science such as collecting particles or other experimentation and be closed again for the return to earth. It is envisaged that a capsule version will be available for high velocity returns to earth and it will use a parachute to land. A further version may be used in a one way trip and not need an ablative shield. This will make it inexpensive to get somewhere and the navigation can be handled by the ThunderStruck team’s mission control.

ThunderStruck and Cruise Mode

I mentioned that there was a way to save time and fuel. Simply that is to launch directly to the direction required by buying a ride on a launch vehicle with a bit of power. The rocket can power us to fly in the right direction with plenty of speed. This either lowers the fuel consumption or the time taken, or a bit of both. None the less getting to your destination with more fuel and in less time is a good start to the flight. Launches like this are not precise. We will spend some time and fuel correcting the trajectory , and with an ion engine, that can take time. None the less in Cruise mode, we will put the bulk of the craft to sleep for periods. This lessens the load on the electronics and can provide more of our solar power to the payload that may in fact be fully operational. In Cruise mode all unnecessary systems will be shut down. They may be woken up for checks on position and direction or orientation to the sun for the solar panels, etc. For such a long flight we will need to use systems like reaction wheels for orientation to ensure that fuel is not used. Solar is renewable. Thunderstruck will need both solar panels for the ion engines and solar power for the spacecraft systems. The ion engine will have its own solar units and Thunderstruck will deploy its own for the flight. these may vary depending on the payload requirements.


About halfway on a flight that has not had boost assistance, we need to turn the spacecraft around and fire the ion engines again to slow the craft. Using the ion engines, this will be the same time taken to accelerate to that speed. It is a slow braking system, but it must be done. If we are using a winged vehicle that is designed for re-entry for Low Earth Orbit (LEO), then we must slow to reach those speed and enter an orbit that will be suitable for a LEO re-entry. If we hit the atmosphere too hard, we could bounce off (like skimming stones on water) and our heat shield and structural integrity would both fail resulting in a breakup of the craft. As stated before a capsule version of the craft may allow us to re-enter at high speeds.

A First For Australia?

Well in fact a first for the entire world. There is nothing to currently service this part of the marketplace. The same winged craft without a massive heat shield could also do significant experiments using a sounding rocket – straight up to over 100Km altitude and back down for a landing.

Heating is insignificant compared to the fiery re-entry that we are accustomed to for orbital re-entry but still a concern that will be addressed. Cold gas thrusters will be all that is needed for flight control until the atmosphere thickens and also a feathering system to keep the spped as slow as possible.

Phase Two Testing from Space

This will occur in about 2 years time and will test the feathering system for a sounding rocket. If nothing else it is likely to be the commencement of building a return vehicle for sounding rocket flights as these can be serviced with different guidance systems and cold gas thrusters – very different from the ThunderStruck spacecraft.

The cold gas thrusters may only be needed before and after the period of “weightlessness” has been used for the experiment. Unlike the tourism spacecraft, sounding rockets are capable of flight higher than 105km and thus a reliable return craft would be a commercial success. It may still have the same shape of the ThunderStruck spacecraft, but have no need for space systems as we know them. It will still break the wound barrier, but be able to land near to the takeoff point. This means full video from space and the entire return flight and that of the payload.

Support for ThunderStruck

The world needs a craft of this capability and Australia needs a healthy space industry. please support ThunderStruck by:

  • Linking to
  • helping with fundraising
  • contributing funds
  • talking about ThunderStruck
  • becoming a shareholder in the new company to own the intellectual property.
  • Donate time and resources to assist the project.