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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Scientific Ballooning.

Balloon Program Office

The Differences Between a Zero Pressure Balloon and a Super Pressure Balloon

  • Zero-Pressure Balloon
    • Balloon is inflated though side of balloon
    • When the balloon reaches float altitude, "excess" helium vent out ducts
    • Balloon uses Load Tapes to carry suspended load
    • Balloon shell made of 0.8 mil single layer co-extruded LLDPE film
    • Requires diurnal ballast (6-8% of system mass) to stay floating overnight
    Flight 590N "ANITA" - A 29 MCF Zero Pressure Balloon at Float
    Inflated Dimensions Height 101.4 m (332.8 ft), Diameter 129.4 m (424.4 ft)
    Flight 590N ANITA

  • Super Pressure Balloon
    • Balloon is inflated though apex fitting
    • When the balloon reaches float altitude, "excess" helium pressurizes the balloon
    • Balloon uses Load Tendons to carry suspended load and resolve pressure forces
    • Balloon shell made of 1.5 mil co-extruded LLDPE film
    • Ballast not required for diurnal cycle and to stay floating overnight
    Flight 591NT - A 7 MCF Super Pressure Balloon at Float
    Inflated Dimensions - Height 49.9 m (163.6 ft), Diameter 82.8 m (271.6 ft)
    Flight 591NT

    Altitude variations between Super Pressure and Zero Pressure Balloons
    Altitude variations between Super Pressure and Zero Pressure Balloons

NASA Code 820

Scientific Balloon Update

Report back for the latest update from NASA's Balloon Program Office.