Some years ago, flying at 39,000 feet over the scar-scape of Nevada, I realized that humanity had been walking the surface of the Earth for the last four million years, but had only in the last century been venturing into the stratosphere; here was a new realm to explore! As ever, it is likely that we will find it packed with complexity and life, that it is no waste or sterile void.
To explore this new vastness I do not want to tear through it in a jet; I want to move with the air. To do that, I am currently building an airship and a life-support system.
While none of my plans are secret, I do not have the time or inclination to build a standard expedition website, seek sponsors, and so on. I have done all of that several times for other expeditions. This is a very different endeavour and for it I want and need a lot of independence and few to no externally-imposed timelines. So I work alone. For the moment, I post occasional clips of systems development on my blog.
When all is ready I will be building a website and seeking the usual media outlets for two reasons; to make my project known to the world so that people will perhaps take in what I observe, and to raise awareness and support for some charitable organization, though I have not yet selected one.
Why 'Project Alpha'? At first, I was going to call it Project Omega; the end of my expedition career. But then I came to my senses, and thought, no; this will be the beginning of the many expeditions I still have in mind; Project Alpha.
Lately, WIRED magazine (see below) has run a short story and video on my project, as has Explorers Web, and my project is featured as a chapter in the new book, American Dreamers, alongside chapters by Arianna Huffington, Stan Lee, the Mythbusters, the Mars Society's Robert Zubrin, and many others.
KOIN TV has also done a short story that covers the project to date:
All material copyright 2000-2010 by Cameron M. Smith unless otherwise noted.
On the left: top: building my pressure suit, middle: pressure glove with restraint glove, bottom: schematic diagram of gas management system. On the right: top: building the flight performance indicator panel, middle: oral-nasal mask inside pressure helmet, bottom: working sketch.