Are you entertaining dreams of launching your own private spacecraft? All you need is about 30 grand in your bank account, and lots of spare time. Last weekend, a company called JP Aerospace sent its unmanned Tandem airship 95,085 feet above the ground -- a height that, according to the company, establishes a new record for remotely controlled airships. In fact, JP Aerospace says this altitude is a full four miles higher than any other airship has ever flown. To pull this off, the team strapped its 30-foot-long aircraft with two balloons, and packed it with a pair of electric motors that manipulated the Tandem's specially designed propellers. It's a relatively simple method, and one that didn't exactly break the bank, either. All told, it took about five years and some $30,000 to launch the aircraft, as part of the company's Airship to Orbit project. The long-term goal is to use the Tandem or similar airships as a launch pad for rockets or other interstellar aircraft. No word yet on when that could happen, but you can float past the break for a brief video on the Tandem, coupled with a brief PR.

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JP Aerospace Airship Flies to the Edge of Space, Smashing the Existing World Altitude Record

On Saturday morning, October 22, 2011, The Tandem airship was launched from Nevada's Black Rock desert. The airship flew to 95,085 feet, higher than any airship in history

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif., Oct. 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- On Saturday morning, October 22, 2011, The Tandem airship was launched from Nevada's Black Rock desert. The airship flew to 95,085 feet, higher than any airship in history.

After fighting through extreme turbulence from 40,000 to 60,000 feet, Tandem soared to 95,085 feet. Tandem flew nearly four miles higher than any airship before. The pilot on the ground then remotely turned on the motors and flew the airship through a series of maneuvers. At the end of its mission one balloon burst and the command was sent to release the other balloon. Tandem was then carried to a soft landing by a row of five parachutes.

Tandem is an unmanned twin balloon airship. The two balloons are separated by a thirty foot long carbon fiber truss. Two electric motors each spin a six foot long propeller. The propellers are specifically designed to work in the thin atmosphere twenty miles up.
The airship was built and flown by the all-volunteer, independent space program: JP Aerospace.

"The big aerospace firms have been trying to do this for decades, spending hundreds of millions of dollars," says John Powell, President of JP Aerospace. "We've spent about $30,000 and the past five years developing Tandem."

Tandem is a general workhorse vehicle. A high-altitude backhoe, it will be used as a launch platform for small research rockets, a mother ship for hypersonic test airships and all around tool for the Airship to Orbit program. Airship to Orbit is a project to build large V-shaped airships that will fly to space.

Tandem is also a construction vehicle for high altitude research stations and eventually cities at the edge of space.