Unmanned Hot Air Balloon Near Space?
After researching various DIY weather balloon setups, I was less than satisfied with the short flight time due to the balloon always exploding. I then had an idea: Why not use a hot air balloon that runs on electricity and recharges through solar panels/mini "windmills"? After all, electrically heating a balloon through something like a hairdrying coil is a lot more effecient and can go a lot higher than propeller powered uav's. It also could have an indifinite flight time (in theory)! Has anyone done something like this before? Could a prop be added for manual control, or would the wind be too fast for that? If so, how could the balloon be controlled for going to different "waypoints", or is that even possible?
This will most likely be my summer "project"!
Here are the laws I found regarding these near space balloons (subsection D): http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=ea968eea871ed9ab2380f6d979eaa7a6&rgn=div5&view=text&node=14:188.8.131.52.15&idno=14#14:184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11