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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Scientific Ballooning

Balloon Program Office

About BPO

Scientific Ballooning Roadmap Report Outline

  • Scientific ballooning has made important contributions to NASA's programs, providing access to near-space conditions.

  • Scientific ballooning will continue to contribute significantly to NASA's strategic objectives.

  • The current balloon program has substantial capabilities, but funding challenges.

  • To achieve its potential for advancing strategic objectives, three high-priority needs are identified.
    • Increased Capability for Long-Duration Flights
      • Additional infrastructure and program cost to enable three Antarctic flights a year.
      • Dedicated aircraft in Antarctica to help assure timely instrument recovery.
      • LDB flight capability for three flights per year from Arctic. 
      • Trajectory Modification to meet safety and environmental restrictions:
        • Keep Antarctic trajectory over the continent even after two or three circuits.
        • Ensure that mid-latitude flights do not fly over densely populated areas.
        • This is critical technology for ULDB flights of 100 days or more.
      • High Altitude (125Kft) Super Pressure Balloon
        • Extension of current ULDB development, which will take 1-ton instruments to > 110 kft about two years from now.
          • Substantially lighter-weight support instrumentation
          • ~50% increase in balloon volume.
        • Frequent UNEX AO's would provide better, more reliable support for both balloon missions and Missions of Opportunity
  • Looking forward at the next ten to thirty years we envision exciting new possibilities for scientific ballooning

NASA Code 820

Scientific Balloon Update

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