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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Scientific Ballooning

Balloon Program Office


Capabilities of NASA Balloons for Science Missions

Technology plays major rule in expanding the capabilities of NASA balloons. The two types of balloons currently used by the NASA Balloon Flight program are zero-pressure and super pressure. Though either balloon can be used for any flight type, zero-pressure balloons typically are used for short flights, whereas a super pressure balloon is required for an extended flight. The design of a zero-pressure balloon does not allow for extended flights except during the Summer in the polar regions. Various balloon sizes with corresponding capabilities are available. The charts below provide a summary of the capabilities of the two balloons as well as the various qualified balloon sizes.

Scientific Capabilities of NASA Balloons

Scientific Capabilities of NASA Balloons Chart

NASA Balloon Capabilities

Balloon Volumes noted in Million Cubic Feet (MCF), Weight/Altitude Ratio is Approximate.

NASA Balloon Capabilities Chart


NASA Code 820

Scientific Balloon Update

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