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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Scientific Ballooning

Balloon Program Office

Mission Statement

Program Core Values

  • Core Value of the Balloon Program is to offer the Nation Low-Cost Access to Space at altitudes up to 160,000 ft for:
    • Support scientific investigations that are resource and time Limited, but are important to our National scientific interests.
    • Averaged ~20 Flights/Year over past decade.
  • Acceptable Risks and Significant Benifits
    • Rapid Response to New Mission Requirements.
    • Payloads are recovered, modified, improved and flown again.
    • Low-Cost Technology Development Test Platform for Orbital Missions
  • Highly Rated Science with 10-20 Day Missions, with plans for 60-100 day Flights as Alternative to Shuttle or ELV launches.

Mission Model

  • 16 Conventional flights/year
    • ~1 day, from Palestine, TX; Ft. Sumner, NM; or Lynn Lake, Canada
  • Two polor Long-Duration Balloon (LDB) campaigns/year
    • 2 LDB flights/year from McMurdo, Antarctica, 10-15 days (up to 30-40)
    • 2 LDB flights/year from Kiruna, Sweden to Canada or Alaska, ~7 days
      • Subject to approval for over-flight of Russia, these could be around-the-world flights for ~20 days and the launch could be from Fairbanks, AL
  • One mid-latitude LDB campaign/year
    • 2 LDB flights between Alice Springs, Australia and South America, ~10 days
    • Within safty constraints, these could be around-thr-world flights, ~20 days
  • Thru FY07 one foreign campaign/year is cancelled to pay for Antarctic Facilities upgrades.
  • Development of Super-Pressure Balloon
    • 1-ton instrument>110kft by FY07
    • 100-day flight goal (Ultra Long Duration Balloon, ULDB)
    • Little or no day/night altitude variation


NASA Code 820

Scientific Balloon Update

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