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Publication numberUS3081967 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMar 19, 1963
Filing dateMar 5, 1962
Priority dateMar 5, 1962
Publication numberUS 3081967 A, US 3081967A, US-A-3081967, US3081967 A, US3081967A
InventorsAndrew Church David
Original AssigneeAndrew Church David
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Balloon launching at sea
US 3081967 A
Abstract  available in
Images(4)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

March 19, 1963 n. A. CHURCH BALLOON LAUNCHING AT SEA 4 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed March 5, 1962 INVENTOR, Davz'dA. ('hurch March 19, 1963 o. A. CHURCH BALLOON LAUNCHING AT SEA 4 Shelets-Sheet 2 Filed March 5, 1962 m MWNLN INVENTOR; fiavzdA. kurciL ATTORNEY March 19, 1963 D. A CHURCH I 3,081,967

BALLOON LAUNCHING AT SEA Filed March 5, 1962 4 Sheets-Sheet INVENTOR,

David/2A. Ukurah ATTORNEY D. A. CHURCH BALLOON LAUNCHING AT SEA March 19, 1963 4 Sheets-Sheet 4 Filed March 5, 1962 INVENTOR urah Davz'dAL7Z BY Z ATTORNEY United States Patent 3,081,967 BALLOON LAUNCHING AT SEA David Andrew Church, Coon Rapids, Minn, assignor, by mesne assignments, to the United States of America as represented by the Secretary of the Navy Filed Mar. 5, 1962, Ser. No. 177,683 Claims. (Cl. 244-31) the extended deflated balloon, which may be hundreds of feet in length. Full size aircraft carriers have been used for manned and unmanned upper atmospheric research balloon flights. Rocket-carrying balloons have been launched from the helicopter decks of ice breakers, and LSDs which had planking installed over the well sections to provide the needed deck length.

The large amount of deck length required for such launchings makes them expensive and has seriously limited the amount of sea-going balloon launching activity that can be economically engaged in.

The present invention makes possible the launching of balloons of any desired deflated length from vessels of relatively moderate deck length, relying on the seat itself as a support for the extended deflated balloon until inflation is suflicient to erect the entire balloon, and using only the fantail for supporting equipment used in the inflation and launching procedure, the load train, and the launching crew.

The invention will be better understood on reference to the following description and the accompanying more or less schematic drawing, wherein: p

l is a' top plan view of the fantail of a small operational craft, preparatory to the deployment of a reefed deflated balloon onto the sea.

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of FIG. 1, portions of the handrail being omitted.

3 is a side elevational view, on a reduced scale, showing the balloon fully extended and substantially entirely supported by the sea.

[FIG 4 shows the deployed balloon with its lift gas receptacle partially inflated.

FIG. 5 is similar to FIG. 4 but with the lift gas receptacle erect and part of the remainder of the balloon erected out of the sea.

FIG. 6 is similar to FIG. 5 but with the inflation sufficiently advanced to erect the entire balloon.

FIG. 7 is similar to FIG. 6 but shows the reefing sleeve being removed.

FIG. 8 shows the unreefed erected balloon fully inflated preparatory to removal of the inflation tube.

FIG. 9 shows the balloon, with load train attached, in flight.

FIG. 10 shows a modified balloon assembly.

Referring now more particularly to the drawing, there is shown (FIGS. 1 and 2) the fantail 10 of a Navy patrol craft or other small operational vessel 12. On the fantail deck 14 is secured a helium or other lift gas supply 16, a winch (the base for which is omitted) having a strong nylon or other'suitable line 22, and a pulley 2.4 under which the line extends. The fantail handrail26 is opened for the purpose of the invention at 23 between two stern stanchions 30 which, as well as the adjacent deck approach to the opening, are covered with polyethylwe or other suitable smooth limp film 32 to provide a snag-free guideway for the balloon assembly in the process of deployment on the sea, as will appear.

3,081,967 Patented Mar. 19, 1963 At the balloon factory, the balloon 34 is made part of an assembly 36 (FIG. 4) including a readily removable inflation tube 38 and a readily removable reefing sleeve 40. The inflation tube 38 extends within the balloon 34 from a point 44 near the top 46 of the balloon to a point just above the balloon base 48. The balloon film near the base 48 is formed with a slit (not shown) through which the tube 38 passes. The reefing sleeve 40 is wrapped about the balloon 34 from the base 48 to a point short of the inner end 44 of the tube 38 and constricts the balloon but not the tube, leaving exposed a relatively short ballon crown portion 52 which is to serve as a receptacle for lift gas and is large enough to provide a lift gas bubble capable of erecting the balloon assembly 36 without restriction of the receptacle. That is, there is an excess of unreefed film thereat so that the gas in the bubble will not unduly stress the film. The assembly 36 is packed in conventional zig-zag array in a box or crate 54 with the base 48 and balloon top 46 arranged for ready availability when the box is opened.

The box 54, thus packed, is placed on the deck 14 near the handrail opening 28, and opened, and then a crew member carefully pulls the base 48 out of the box, and tethers it to the winch line 22. Then he carefully pulls the balloon top 46 out of the box 54 and through the handrail opening 28, and, while the vessel 12 is moving on a steady course at a speed of about three knots, downwind if there is a wind, lowers the top gently into the sea 56 at the vessels stern 58. Successive parts of the balloon assembly 36 are handled and paid out likewise until the assembly is fully extended and most of it is in the sea 56 (FIGS. 3 and 4). The assembly 36 is preferably paid out at a rate substantially equal to the vessels speed in order to avoid towing and consequent drag stress on the loose unreefed delicate film of the receptacle 52 and expedite extension of the assembly. As, from a practical viewpoint, it is diflicult to synchronize the paying out speed with the vessels speed, the paying out speed is held at a rate slightly below that of the vessel. The vessels speed is preferably high enough to promote expeditious deployment of the balloon assembly 36, yet low enough to minimize the stress on the receptacle film and to accornodate the speed with which the crew is able to pay out the balloon assembly 36.

The balloon 34, inflation tube 33, and reefing sleeve 40 are formed of polyethylene, Mylar, or other suitable inelastic thin limp material. Notwithstanding the fact that the balloon assembly 36 is then in substantially deflated condition, it contains a substantial amount of residual air which renders highly buoyant the part of the assembly in the water, even when, as is true of some balloons, there is included a light weight metal top fitting. The friction drag of the assembly 36 in the water is due mainly to the loose unreefed film of the receptacle 52 and the movement of the vessel 12, and causes the assembly to be deployed in extended array in the vessels wake at the sea surface,

and, in about two minutes, more or less, depending on the vessels speed and the deflated extended length of the balloon 34, the paying out and the deployment are complete.

With the vessel 12 continuing at substantially the same low speed, the inflation tubes outer end 60 (FIG. 4), being over the deck 14, is now connected to the helium supply hose '62, the helium supply valve 64 is opened, and inflation is begun. As inflation progresses, the gas receptacle 52 gradually lifts out of the water (FIG. 4), and thus the drag oflered by the receptacle is progressively reduced. I

The unreefed portion 52 is of a size to accommodate slightly more than the volume of lift gas necessary to raise the entire balloon assembly 36 out of the water, in order to provide some looseness to prevent the gas from unduly stressing the delicate balloon film.

Once the receptacle 52 is entirely lifted from the water, this source of drag no longer exists. Since then the only part of the assembly 36 still in the water is reefed, and that part obviously offers relatively little drag, and due to the fact that the inflated receptacle 52 then is buffeted by the wind if, as is likely, the wind speed substantially exceeds the vessels speed, the vessel It) is rapidly accelerated to wind speed, so that, shortly after leaving the water, the receptacle is in substantially a calm. Of course, in case the wind speed does not appreciably exceed the vessels speed, no acceleration is necessary. The inflation continues without interruption, the added lift causing the unreefed portion 52 to rise further (FIG. 5), and within several minutes after inception of inflation the entire balloon assembly 36 is out of the water (FIG. 6).

The inflation tube 38 is held in place by friction with the reefed inner surface of the balloon 34 and by the gas which is being forced through the tube to the receptacle 52.

Once the entire balloon assembly 36 is erect, a crew members slits and rips the reeling sleeve 40 and pulls it down off the balloon 34 (FIG. 7) and places it out of the way, without interruption of inflation. The gas being forced through the inflation tube 38 operates to maintain the tube erect in the erected balloon 34 (FIG. 8) notwithstanding the absence of the reeling sleeve 40.

Inflation is terminated when the balloon 34 contains enough gas to impart the free lift necessary to carry the balloon system 65, consisting of the balloon and a load train 66 (FIG. 9), at the predetermined climb rate and to the predetermined ceiling altitude. If the needed amount of inflation is predetermined, metering of the gas may be resorted to. Or, reliance may be placed on other methods, such as the weigh-off method, wherein, before attachment of the load train 66, a compact mass, equal in weight to the weight of the load train plus the desired free lift, is temporarily suspended from the base 48, the winch 20 is reeled out to slack the line 22, and inflation terminated when the mass is just lifted free; or a scale may be substituted for the mass, and inflation terminated when the scale shows the equivalent weight measurement.

On termination of inflation, the winch 29 is reeled in until the slack is out of its line 22; the weigh-off mass or scale, if any, is disconnected from the base 43; the valve 64 is closed; the inflation tube 38 is pulled out of the balloon 34; the slit for the inflation tube is taped closed; the load train 66 (consisting essentially of a collapse parachute 68 and a payload shown diagrammatically at 70) having previously been assembled, a load line '72, passing through the usual electrically fired load line cut ter 74 and connected to the top of the parachute, is attached to the base; the winch line is paid out carefully, while the load train is held elevated from the deck 14 to protect the load train from dragging along the deck, until the entire load train is airborne; and finally the winch line is severed, launching the balloon system 65.

The vessel 12 moves downwind substantially at wind speed from a time shortly after the bubble 52 has risen from the water until the balloon system 64 is launched, so that throughout this period the balloon is in a calm, thus eliminating bufleting of the balloon before the system is launched.

Where the rearmost stanchions 3!} of the fantail handrail are blocked by a depth charge ejector or other permanent installation, the handrail opening for the paying out of the deflated balloon assembly may be made between one of the stanchions 3t) and an adjacent stanchion 88, or between any other suitable available pair of stanchions.

It is thus apparent that, with the use of a small deck, such as that of a powered or towed raft, or the fantail of a Navy patrol craft or other small operational vessel, a balloon of any desired length may be inflated and launched, inasmuch as the sea is employed to provide the support for the generally horizontally extended deflated length of the balloon. Thus the need for a long deck, such as that of an aircraft carrier, is obviated, so

that the cost, number of personnel required, and difficulty with which large balloons are inflated and launched at sea are reduced to an extent making unlimited sea-borne balloon inflations and launchings economically feasible.

If desired, the inflation tube, instead of extending into the lift gas receptacle 52, may be made shorter, as shown at (FIG. 10), so that its inner end 82 is substantially spaced from the receptacle, the reefed portion of the balloon 34 between the tube end and the receptacle then serving as a conduit for the gas from the tube end to the receptacle. With this modification, taping 84 is applied to the base 48 to avert escape of gas from the base. The taping 84 is removed when the inflation is completed.

Many a balloon is closed at the bottom and provided with an outside so-called duct appendix which extends from an upper part of the balloon to a lower part of the balloon, the top of the duct communicating with the interior of the balloon and the bottom of the duct being adjacent the balloon and open to the atmosphere. If such a balloon is to be launched in accordance with the invention, the duct is Wrapped within the reefing sleeve 40 so that the duct will not offer any interference to the launching procedure.

While preferred means and methods have been described in some detail, they should be regarded as examples of the invention and not in restriction or limitation thereof as changes may be made in the construction and arrangement of the parts and in the methods without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

I claim:

1. In a method of launching at sea a Water-floatable high altitude inelastic film balloon, the steps of (a) tethering the base of a deflated balloon adjacent the surface of the sea;

(b) fully extending the balloon with substantially the entire balloon floating in the sea;

(c) inflating the top portion of the balloon with lift gas suflicient to erect the entire balloon and carry it aloft; and

(d) untethering the balloon.

2. In a method of launching at sea a water-floatable high altitude inelastic film balloon, the steps of (a) fully extending a deflated balloon with substantially the entire balloon floating in the sea;

(b) inflating the top portion, only, of the balloon with suflicient lift gas to erect the entire balloon;

(c) restraining the base of the erect balloon while further inflating the balloon with lift gas sufl'icient to carry the balloon, when loaded, aloft at a predetermined climb rate to a predetermined altitude;

(d) attaching the load to the base of the balloon; and

(e) removing the restraint.

3. In a method of launching at sea in a wind a waterfloatable high altitude inelastic film balloon, the steps of (a) deploying in substantially fully extended formation in the sea at the surface thereof a deflated balloon which is reefed except for a relatively short top portion of the balloon;

(b) inflating the unreefed portion with suflicient lift gas to raise said portion from the sea;

(0) on rise of said portion from the sea, towing the balloon downwind with the balloon base at the downwind end of the balloon and accelerating the balloon rapidly to wind speed;

(d) further inflating the unreefed portion with lift gas suflicient to erect the entire balloon;

(e) unreefing the erect balloon;

(f) restraining the base of the erect balloon and contemporaneously further inflating the balloon and terminating the inflation when the balloon has sufficient lift to climb, with a load, at a predetermined rate to a predetermined ceiling altitude;

(g) attaching the load to the base; and

(h) removing the restraint.

4. In a method of launching at sea from a surface vessel a water-floatabfile inela of I (a) tethering to; the vessel-adjacent the stern thereof stic film balloon, the steps the 'base of aP-deflated compacted balloon which is reefed except for a relatively. short top portion of the balloon; 7

[(b) paying outinto the vessels wake successively the unreefed and reefed portions of the balloon;

('c) propelling the vessel forward on a substantially steady course at a speed of'about a few knots until the balloon is fully extended;

(d) inflating theunreef ed portion with lift cient to erect'the entire balloon;

(e) unreefing the erect'b'alloon;

(f) further inflating the balloon and terminating inj flation whenthe balloon has .suflicient free lift to car yt d pxedste m n j b t t a p 3 determined climb rate to a predetermined ceiling altitude; and a H (g) untethering the balloon.

5.Iri a method of .launching-a water-floatable (high altitude inelastic film balloon from-a surface vessel, the steps of (a) tethering to the vessel adjacent the stern thereof the base of a deflated compacted balloon which is reefed except for a relatively short top portion thereof;

(b) propelling the vessel forward on a steady course,

downwind if there is a wind; V

(c) paying out into the vessels wake successively the unreefed and reefed portions at substantially the -vessels speed until the entire balloon is extended and substantially the entire balloon is in the sea;

(d) inflating the unreefed portion with lift gas suflicient to erect the entire balloon;

(e) unreefing the erect balloon;

(f) further inflating the balloon until it has sufficient free lift to carry it and a predetermined load at a predetermined rate of climb to a predetermined ceiling altitude; and

(g) untethering the balloon.

6. In a method of launching a water-floatable high altitude inelastic film balloon from a surface vessel in a wind substantially exceeding about three knots, the steps of (a) tethering to the vessel adjacent the stern thereof the base of a deflated balloon which is reefed except for a relatively short top portion thereof;

(b) propelling the vessel forward downwind at a speed of about three knots;

(c) paying out at substantially the vessels speed into the vessels wake successively the unreefed and reefed portions until the entire balloon is extended and substantially the entire balloon is in the sea;

(d) inflating the unreefed portion with lift gas sufficient to erect only the unreefed portion;

(2) on erection of the unreefed portion, accelerating vessel downwind rapidly substantially to wind speed;

(f) further inflating the unreefed portion with lift gas suflicient to erect the entire balloon;

(g) unreefing the erect balloon;

(h) further inflating the balloon and terminating infiation when the balloon has suflicient free lift to carry it and a predetermined load aloft at a predetermined climb rate to a predetermined ceiling altitude; and

i) untethering the balloon.

7. In a method of launching at sea a water-floatable high altitude balloon, the steps of 6 the balloon and a load aloft at a predetermined climb rate to a predetermined ceiling altitude;

(d) attaching one end of an elongated load train to thebase of the erect balloon and supporting the train out of the sea;

(i=2)v paying out the tether until the load train is entirely suspended in the air; and 7 (f) untethering the base. 1 8. In a method of launching a large water floatable 10 high altitude balloon at sea from the relatively small fantail deck of a Navy patrol craft or other small operational vessel, the steps of (a) placing on the deck near and ahead of the stern of the fantail handrail a deflated compacted balloon which is reefed except for a relatively small portion at the top of the balloon and includes an inflation tube extending from outside the balloon base into the balloon to the unreefed portion;

(b) opening the stern portion of the handrail;

(c) tethering the base to the deck;

' (d) propelling the vessel forward ona steady course at a speed of about three knots, downwind if there is a wind;

(e) paying out through the opening and into the vessels wake successively the unreefed and reefed portions of the balloon until substantially all except the base floats in the sea;

(f) when the balloon is fully extended, inflating the unreefed portion with lift gas sufficient to erect the unreefed portion;

(g) on erection of the unreefed portion, rapidly accelerating the vessel substantially to Wind speed, if the wind speed exceeds the aforesaid vessel speed;

(h) further inflating the unreefed portion sufficiently to erect the entire balloon;

'(i) unreefing the balloon;

(j) further inflating the balloon sufficiently to carry the balloon and a load train aloft at a predetermined climb rate to a predetermined ceiling altitude, and then terminating inflation;

(k) removing the inflation tube;

(1) attaching one end of the load train to the base;

(m) paying out the tether until the load train is entirely suspended; and

(n) untethering the base.

9. In a method of launching at sea from a moving vessel a high altitude inelastic film balloon, the steps of tethering the base of a compact deflated water-buoyant balloon to a stern portion of a sea surface vessel; propelling the vessel at a speed of about three knots downwind if there is a wind;

lowering the top end of the balloon into the vessels wake;

and paying out succeeding portions of the deflated balloon into the vessels wake at a rate substantially equal to but not exceeding the vessel speed until the entire length of the deflated balloon is extended with the major portion of the deflated balloon in a substantially straight line and floating along the wake, so that the extension of the balloon onto the sea is accomplished without substantial movement of the floating portion of the balloon relative to the sea.

10. In a method of launching at sea in a wind substantially exceeding about three knots a water-floatable 5 high altitude inelastic film balloon, the steps of placing on the stern of a sea surface vessel a compacted deflated water-floatable balloon which is Ieefed except for a relatively short portion thereof sufiicient to provide a lift gas receptacle capable of containing only enough lift gas to erect the balloon without substantially straining the receptable film;

tethering the base of the balloon to the stern of the vessel;

propelling the vessel forward on a steady course downwind at a speed of about three knots;

paying out at substantially the vessels speed into the vessels wake successively the unreefed and reefed portions of the deflated balloon until the entire deflated balloon is extended from its tether and the entire deflated balloon except for its base and a short adjacent reefed part of the balloon is in a line parallel to the vessels course and floats in the wake;

inflating the unreefed portion with sufiicient lift gas to raise substantially only the unreefed portion out of the sea;

on rise of the unreefed portion out of the sea, accelerating the vessel downwind rapidly substantially to wind speed;

maintaining the vessel downwind substantially at wind speed;

while the vessel is moving substantially at wind speed,

inflating the unreefed portion so that it progressively rises and supports out of the sea and substantially vertically progressively longer sections of the reefed portion of the balloon, until the unreefed portion is fully inflated and the entire balloon is erect;

at erection of the entire balloon, progressively unreefing the upper portions of the balloon;

continuing inflation of the upper part of the balloon as the unreefing makes available more unreefed balloon film to accommodate the additional lift gas;

StOpping the inflation when the quantity of gas in the balloon is suflicient to launch the completely unreefed balloon with a load and lift the loaded balloon at a predetermined climb rate to a predetermined ceiling altitude;

attaching the load to the ballon;

and untethering the balloon.

References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS

Patent Citations
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US2635835 *Dec 13, 1951Apr 21, 1953Gen Mills IncBalloon and method of inflating same
US2764369 *Oct 15, 1953Sep 25, 1956Gen Mills IncBalloon with attached inflation tube
US2847962 *Apr 9, 1954Aug 19, 1958David G FreedmanSalvage apparatus
US2997259 *Mar 24, 1958Aug 22, 1961Huch William FBalloon weigh-off and launching means and method
DE1110542B *Jan 14, 1959Jul 6, 1961Dracone Developments LtdEinrichtung zum Verstauen flexibler Schlauchtanker
GB191224321A * Title not available
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3507462 *Nov 9, 1967Apr 21, 1970Litton Systems IncBalloon launching method and apparatus
US3814353 *Jan 5, 1973Jun 4, 1974Winzen Res IncBalloon reefing sleeve and launching method
US5850988 *Aug 20, 1996Dec 22, 1998Visidyne, Inc.Radiosonde balloon launching system
US7708222 *Apr 27, 2007May 4, 2010Stratocomm CorporationLong mission tethered aerostat and method of accomplishing
US7775483 *Aug 17, 2010Gaylord G OlsonLaunch and recovery system for tethered airborne elements
US8083174Dec 27, 2011Stratocomm CorporationLong mission tethered aerostat and method of accomplishing
US8485465 *Dec 23, 2011Jul 16, 2013Stratocomm CorporationLong mission tethered aerostat and method of accomplishing
US9180981 *Nov 13, 2009Nov 10, 2015Zero2Infinity, S.L.Pod for space or near-space flights
US9327819Feb 13, 2014May 3, 2016Google Inc.Methods and mechanisms for balloon launching
US9327844Feb 13, 2014May 3, 2016Google Inc.Methods and mechanisms for balloon launching
US20080265086 *Apr 27, 2007Oct 30, 2008Yee-Chun LeeLong mission tethered aerostat and method of accomplishing
US20100133385 *Dec 3, 2008Jun 3, 2010Olson Gaylord GLaunch and recovery system for tethered airborne elements
US20120091261 *Apr 19, 2012Yee-Chun LeeLong mission tethered aerostat and method of accomplishing
US20120228434 *Nov 13, 2009Sep 13, 2012Zero2Infinity, S.L.Pod for space or near-space flights
US20130299629 *Jul 15, 2013Nov 14, 2013Stratocomm CorporationLong mission tethered aerostat and method of accomplishing
WO2012099699A1 *Dec 30, 2011Jul 26, 2012Information Systems Laboratories, Inc.System for providing a rapidly elevated aerostat platform
Classifications
U.S. Classification244/31, 114/261
International ClassificationB64B1/00, B64B1/62
Cooperative ClassificationB64B1/62
European ClassificationB64B1/62