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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Scientific Ballooning

Balloon Program Office


Balloon Trajectory Control System (BTCS)

A balloon in free-flight may encounter significant operational restrictions across a range of projected mission types. These restrictions may include: (a) need to avoid high population centers for safety reasons for long duration missions; (b) need to avoid regions restricted for geopolitical reasons; (c) desired over flight of a specific region; (d) desire to recover payload in acceptable areas; and, (e) desire to enable new science, particularly for Earth Science.

A fully developed system would ultimately provide control authority for current classes of Long Duration Balloon (LDB) and planned Ultra Long Duration Balloon (ULDB) missions. Specifically, the system would need to: (a) support the range of existing payload classes; (b) be capable of interoperability with existing flight systems, or with minor modifications, with minimal impact on current launch procedures; (c) provide functionality in the northern hemisphere, southern hemisphere and Antarctica; (d) enable the NASA Balloon Program Office (BPO) to meet the operational safety CE requirements; (e) enable recovery operations over dry land; (e) accommodate ground commanded control as well as autonomous control; (f) provide functionality over a range of altitudes from 100-Kft to 130-Kft; and, (g) not produce unacceptable oscillatory inputs or vibrations to pointing payloads or payloads requiring stable platform.

The Balloon Program is pursuing the development of Balloon Trajectory Control System (BTCS).

NASA Code 820

Scientific Balloon Update

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