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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Scientific Ballooning

Balloon Program Office

Advanced Support Systems

CSBF Flight Systems
  • Longer flights require systems with higher reliability
  • Unique systems for these longer flights are also required
  • The long duration Super Pressure flight systems are similar to those provided for the NASA LDB missions
  • CSBF has developed new systems as well as new unique systems for the long duration Super Pressure Balloon flights
    • Reliable solar power and charging systems for long flights
    • Flight control and data storage including redundant flight computers for telemetry, ballast, and terminate
    • Communication systems for line of sight as well as long duration flight
    • Other flight systems to support unique needs for Super Pressure Balloon flights including differential pressure measurement, environment measurements, tendon loads and more
    • Camera systems smaller, lighter weight, fixed focal length, pan/tilt/zoom systems, and systems to obtain images from over the horizon on very long flights
  • Balloon, launch & recovery services, payload development support
Balloon Payload Components


Wallops Arc Second Pointer (WASP)
  • WASP is an Enabling Technology Development
  • Enabling Precision Balloon Science Observations
  • Solar Imaging
  • Exo-Planet Finding
  • Other Science Where High Precision Pointing is Required
  • Successful Ground Test Results
  • Ground Tests with Mock Telescope
  • 24 foot long, 1500 lbs.
  • Pitch and Yaw Torque Motors
  • Sub-Arcsecond Pointing Achieved
  • Jitter less than 0.75 arcseconds RMS
  • Flight Prototype Design
  • Full Scale Gimbal (1 meter spacing)
  • 1200 lbs. mock telescope
  • New Flight Processor, Software, Motor Drivers
  • Fiber Optic Gyroscope
  • Test Flights Fall 2011, Fall 2012, and planned for Fall of 2013


Flight Trajectory Control
  • The potential for flight trajectory control will be an enabling technology for long Super Pressure Balloon flights
  • Typically a balloon floats along with the prevailing winds for the length of its flight
  • The goal of trajectory control is to slightly modify the balloon flight track over time to be able to steer the system to preferred flight latitudes
  • This would allow a balloon to be launch from one location and then to be shifted to a latitude band where there will be little population or land to overfly during the mission. Toward the end of the mission, the balloon would be steered back to a desire location to safely terminate the flight and recover the science instrument.
  • Flight Trajectory Control is a long term advanced support system desired by the NASA Balloon Program Office

NASA Code 820

Scientific Balloon Update

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