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Re: [amsat-bb] Laser Satellite Comms

In a message dated 3/2/99 10:49:06 AM Central Standard Time, fordhadr@jmu.edu

 Echo I and II were nothing more than *BIG* balloons.  I don't remember the
 but it seems like they were simply huge mylar (had mylar been invented yet?)
 silvery balloons with a miniscule amount of gas (a CO-2 cartridge or less)
 to keep them inflated in space.  They orbited for several years, and were
 200-feet in diameter (or something like that, as I said I don't remember the
 exact details).  They were *brilliant* ... first magnitude, or even
 minus-one or
 minus-two magnitude.  Their low orbits made them really zip across the sky.
 It would seem that a big mylar balloon, with an auto-triggered CO-2
 with a silvered surface (like those 98-cent emergency blankets at Wal-Mart)
 would be a lot of fun to play with.  Talk about bouncing light signals!   >>

It was a little more complex than that. IIRC, it was the first major use of
aluminized Mylar, but the material is still porious enough that the gas would
not stay inside. A thin coating of a modified gelatin was used on the inside
to prevent the balloon from deflating too soon. I'll email my dad who helped
develope the gelatin.

Charles S. Krin, DO FAAFP
Member, PGBFH
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