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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Scientific Ballooning.

Balloon Program Office

Test Flight 591NT Antarctica 54 Day Duration Test Flight, 7 MCF Balloon

  • The goals of this flight were balloon deployment and flight duration. Data gathered to;
    • Aid in the assessment of the Super Pressure Balloon materials and design
    • Determine if the design changes made to allow for proper balloon deployment were adequate
    • Contribute to the overall design and development of the Super Pressure Balloon vehicle.
  • Balloon was scaled up from the successful 586NT, ~2 MCF, test flight
  • Williams Field near McMurdo Station, Antarctica on December 28, 2008
  • Balloon volume ~200,000 m3 (~7,000,000 ft3), 200 Gores
  • Suspended payload ~680 kg (~1,500 lbs)
  • Diameter 82.6 m (~271 ft), Height 51.7 m (~170 ft)
  • Desired Float Altitude: 33.5 km (~110,000 ft, + infinity/ - 5,000 ft)
  • Balloon fully and easily deployed at float
  • Flight flew for a record setting 54 days, 1 hour, and 29 minutes
  • No gas loss detected
  • Flight could have gone on indifferently, but was ended by command to adhere to the established flight safety rules to not leave the Antarctic continent
Inflation of Super Pressure Balloon 591NT looking from the base fitting of the balloon
591NT Inflation


Full flight train view of the inflation of Super Pressure Balloon 591NT
591NT Full Flight Train


Fully deployed 591NT balloon at float
591NT at float


591NT circled the Antarctic continent almost 3 full time in 54 days
591NT Flight Path


Altitude comparisons for 3 different Antarctic flights - two Zero Pressure balloons and one Super Pressure Balloon
Altitude comparisons for 3 different Antarctic flights



NASA Code 820

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