House attached to balloons flies, sets world record (w/ Video)

Mar 08, 2011 by Lisa Zyga weblog
balloon house
300 weather balloons lift a 2,000-pound house into the air. Image credit: National Geographic.

(PhysOrg.com) -- How hard can it be to lift a house with helium balloons? A National Geographic team of scientists, engineers, and balloon pilots has demonstrated how to achieve such a feat, which was filmed for a new TV series called “How Hard Can It Be?” They conclude that, although it’s very difficult, it’s not impossible.

It took the team about two weeks to plan, build, and lift the house into the air using . They needed about 300 weather balloons, each of which inflated to a height of 8 feet, in order to lift the 2,000-pound, 16x16-foot yellow house. Lifting off early in the morning outside of Los Angeles, the house floated for about an hour and reached an altitude of 10,000 feet.

According to the National Geographic Channel, the floating house set a world record for the “largest balloon cluster flight” ever attempted. The entire aircraft of house and balloons was about 100 feet tall.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Behind-the-scenes footage of the flying balloon house. Video credit: National Geographic.

The concept of a house being lifted into the air by balloons may sound familiar to young movie-goers who have seen Pixar’s latest animated feature called “Up.” In the movie, an old man and a boy go on a ride when the house they’re in is lifted into the sky by balloons tied to the house’s roof.

Just like in the movie, there were a few people inside the real-life house while it was flying. More details about the “balloon house” will appear in “How Hard Can It Be?”, which is scheduled to debut next fall.

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More information: National Geographic Channnel
via: CNet Crave

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User comments : 29

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trekgeek1
2.5 / 5 (8) Mar 08, 2011
It took a team of scientists and engineers? It's a high school level problem dealing with buoyancy. I'm pretty sure you can do it with one single equation.
nellux
not rated yet Mar 08, 2011
I wonder if they popped balloons to get back on solid ground safely.
The_P
4.8 / 5 (4) Mar 08, 2011
I think it was going to be a high school project but none of the students got the permission slips signed
jbeale
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 08, 2011
Basic buoyancy yes, but I think doing it with people inside adds a few more degrees of complexity.
Parsec
4.8 / 5 (6) Mar 08, 2011
Basic buoyancy yes, but I think doing it with people inside adds a few more degrees of complexity.

Putting people inside also adds a few more degrees of insanity. A wooden structure could easily have self disassembled mid-flight, leading to the ultimate oops moment.
nellux
5 / 5 (6) Mar 08, 2011
A wooden structure could easily have self disassembled mid-flight, leading to the ultimate oops moment.


Of course, getting the house in the air was not a big problem. Keeping it level for the people inside is a bit different. And making it safe enough for people to actually want to hitch a ride is still another.
rynox
5 / 5 (5) Mar 08, 2011
I thought we were running out of helium?
Thrasymachus
3.3 / 5 (10) Mar 08, 2011
Plus, the house has to be built for the specific purpose of being lifted by balloons. Houses are designed to sit on foundations, not float through the air. So there's your engineers right there. Then you've got to figure out how to tie the balloons together and to the house in such a way that the whole thing doesn't just start twisting violently under a cross-wind. The theory behind lifting a house with helium balloons is pretty well understood. But as that sage Yogi Berra once said, "In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there always is."
kaasinees
3.7 / 5 (12) Mar 08, 2011
waste of money...
electrodynamic
not rated yet Mar 08, 2011
Scary thought a house falling out of the sky, and only two weeks to plan something like that, I guess they have a lot of faith in their ability. I like looking two, or three times before I pull out in traffic, and would want a few more looks before I flew off in a house.
mrwolfe
5 / 5 (1) Mar 08, 2011
@trekgeek1

While it's true that the bouyancy calculations are basic high school physics, geting a house shaped object to fly is not that simple. Houses after all are not designed to leave the ground. Flight stability and structural integrity have to be well though out, otherwise bad things will happen.
plasticpower
4.8 / 5 (4) Mar 08, 2011
As the remaining 25 yr supply of helium further dwindles..
Pretty cool though.
Cave_Man
4.2 / 5 (6) Mar 08, 2011
way to waste a sh*tload of helium genius'.
Bob_B
2.7 / 5 (3) Mar 08, 2011
16x16 is NOT a house. Large tent is more like it.
Chromodynamix
5 / 5 (2) Mar 09, 2011
This is a tiny amount of Helium in the grand scheme of things.

Not a house, more like a Unabomber shelter :p
Recovering_Human
3 / 5 (4) Mar 09, 2011
I think scientists have SLIGHTLY more pressing problems to be working on than something like this.
antialias
3.8 / 5 (4) Mar 09, 2011
I think scientists have SLIGHTLY more pressing problems to be working on than something like this.

But even scientists like to have fun every once in a while.
KillerKopy
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 09, 2011
What a total waste of time and money.
antialias
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 09, 2011
Since the effort was probably paid for by the TV show (and therefore indirectly by commercials) I assume you'd rather the money and time had been spent on producing another talent show or sitcom?
Ethelred
4.2 / 5 (10) Mar 09, 2011
Helium is a byproduct of the natural gas industry and there are problems with storing it. It takes up SPACE. Quite a lot. It gets produced whether anyone intends to or not and it might as well be used for entertainment rather being released to the air to get rid of the excess to avoid storing it.

As for it being a waste of time an money.

So are movies, books, dancing, your posts but not mine of course, this site, television, radio, sports, most of the people on Earth except me, political candidates I don't like, political candidates I do like that don't get elected, any political candidate or entertainer you whiners like, the entire Fox network except House, Twilight movies, chick flicks, spam, the pepper pot sketches except the spam sketch, telephone solicitation, Marjon, string theory unless they finish the math, 95 percent of Oliver's spam, aliens abducting drunken crackers, the Electoral College, Glenn Beck, American Idol and of course the thousand character limit.

Ethelred
Beard
1 / 5 (1) Mar 09, 2011
Why is the speech backwards in the second half of the video?
Royale
5 / 5 (3) Mar 09, 2011
Wow Ethelred! I just got the chills. Exceptional list (although I'd add anything Seth MacFarlane touches to the Fox list). You just reminded me of Maddox, and that's pretty tough for someone to do. In case you don't know who Maddox is, he can be found at thebestpageintheuniverse.com.
beelize54
1 / 5 (1) Mar 09, 2011
I thought we were running out of helium?
Apparently not - or some people are getting way too much money for their gaming.
Pyle
5 / 5 (1) Mar 09, 2011
Where are the talking dogs?
SallyBird
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 09, 2011
I guess entertainment is more important than a scarce resource. Dumb stunt.
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (1) Mar 09, 2011
I maintain that it is simple. Buoyancy = simple. It is suspended from above so stability is super simple. Designing a house that isn't an actual house, but rather a strong frame that looks like a house is also simple.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (5) Mar 12, 2011
As for it being a waste of time an money.

So are movies, books, dancing, your posts but not mine of course, this site, television, radio, sports, most of the people on Earth except me, political candidates I don't like, political candidates I do like that don't get elected, any political candidate or entertainer you whiners like, the entire Fox network except House, Twilight movies, chick flicks, spam, the pepper pot sketches except the spam sketch, telephone solicitation, Marjon, string theory unless they finish the math, 95 percent of Oliver's spam, aliens abducting drunken crackers, the Electoral College, Glenn Beck, American Idol and of course the thousand character limit.
I think this is the post of the year.
random
not rated yet Mar 13, 2011
They did it for Science. What more reason do you need?
Au-Pu
1 / 5 (1) Mar 14, 2011
What a waste of time, money, effort and helium.
A wasteful wank.