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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Scientific Ballooning.

Balloon Program Office

Construction, Modeling, and Analysis

  • The Super Pressure Balloon is built with techniques that have evolved from the very successful Zero Pressure Balloons. Many of the construction techniques are very similar between Zero Pressure and Super Pressure Balloons
  • The SPB is basically a 2-part system made up of:
    • Polyethylene film
    • High strength lightweight tendons (or rope sections)
  • Measurements are made during production to ensure the desired balloon shape is being built as well as to ensure the quality of the construction materials.
  • Inclusion of the tendons has required the development of new production, processing, fabrication, and quality techniques. Many of these are proprietary items, and have pushed the state of the art in balloon production
Modeling and Analysis
  • Materials used in the Super Pressure Balloons are made specifically for the project so materials properties do not generally exist
  • Extensive material testing, material characterization, and material modeling have been completed as part of this development effort to ensure proper inputs to the balloon design, analysis, and performance models
  • Materials research and testing has clarified critical Super Pressure Balloon material properties
  • This testing has lead to the definition of material property limits which guide the designs as well in flight allowable loading limits
  • Analyses completed of the entire balloon structure as well as subsections of the balloon to assess stress and loading limits.
  • Analyses performed for various different loading conditions that replicate in-flight loading conditions
    • Extremes in temperature and flight environments
    • Extremes in differential pressure
    • Various launch locations
    • Impacts over extended flight times
    Balloon modeling provides insight into the loading and performance of the balloon. Simplified model balloon above and detailed model of a constructed balloon replicating a specific flight condition.
    Balloon Temperature Modeling Diagram

NASA Code 820

Scientific Balloon Update

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