fnstraj Development Dairy

About a year and a half ago, I was laying in a bed somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Florida. I was thinking about my rather ambitious space-balloon projects and somewhere in the middle of that, the idea of creating my own ballon trajectory predictor popped up. It was pretty silly to think that nineteen-year-old could ever make something that complex. But then I kept dreaming and eventually came to writing some ideas down on paper. By that winter, I had a working proof-of-concept written in Python. It’s now a year after that and fnstraj (which is what the name evolved to be) is now working software, written in Node.js. As far as I know, it’s one of the best predictors out there, as it uses NOAA’s new (as of this year) aviation-grade weather model called RAP.

Today, it got even better. It now supports three separate weather models and is capable of working on a global scale. It supports the GFS and GFSHD weather models, which work into the future, unlike RAP. The support for flying in the future isn’t quite coded yet, but what you can do is compare how the different weather models show wind (shown in the above image). I can’t compare these to an actual flight just yet, but I’ve got reason to believe that RAP is pretty close to reality. The other two models are really fantastic for flight planning (as directionality and distance of flights stays somewhat close during a season).

This may have been my longest coding project yet, but it now has shown to be pretty reliable as far as not breaking down goes. Building a web interface will be complex, but that hopefully is the next step for fnstraj, which I’d like to offer as a free web service for every person who ever dreamed of calling space their own.

Would you like to try fnstraj? Grab it on Github!