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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Scientific Ballooning.

Balloon Program Office

Super Pressure Balloon Test Flights

There have been a number of test flights of the NASA Super Pressure Balloon to explore the design, deployment of this type of structure, and flight duration. These test flights have positively worked toward improving the balloon fabrication approaches through new and innovative production processes. Advancements in the launch operations techniques have also been achieved.

The project approach has focused on incremental steps up in balloon volume and payload carrying capability. There are always challenges with both production and launch operations as a balloon goes up in size. The incremental stepwise approach to building bigger balloons was adopted to try to effectively manage these challenges and provide continuity for the process. Balloon volumes have steadily increased over time. Coupled with the increased balloon volume are increases in the number of gores in the balloon and the payload carrying capability. Below is a list of the balloon designs flown using the current design approach as part of this incremental development process.

  • ~56,800 m3 (~2,006,000 ft3), 200 Gores, ~295 kg (~650 lbs) suspended payload
  • ~200,000 m3 (~7,000,000 ft3), 200 Gores, ~680 kg (~1,500 lbs) suspended payload
  • ~422,400 m3 (~14,900,000 ft3), 230 Gores, ~1,800 kg (~4,000 lbs) suspended payload
  • ~532,000 m3 (~18,800,000 ft3), 280 Gores, ~2,270 kg (~5,000 lbs) suspended payload

The step up in volume, number of gores, and payload carrying capability can be clearly seen. Short summaries of a number of test flights of the current design are presented at the links below.



NASA Code 820

Scientific Balloon Update

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