Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

NASA Completes Balloon Technology Test Flight
by Staff Writers
Palestine TX (SPX) May 11, 2017

For a larger version of this image please go here.

NASA completed its third mid-latitude Super Pressure Balloon (SPB) flight at 11:24 p.m. EDT, Saturday, May 6, after 12 days, 4 hours and 34 minutes aloft. Flight controllers at NASA's Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine, Texas, conducted a controlled flight termination of the balloon, which slowly descended back to Earth impacting in the South Pacific Ocean about 200 miles south of Easter Island.

Launching from Wanaka Airport, New Zealand, on a mission to test the SPB technology, a leak in the balloon was confirmed on its third day of flight. The balloon was designed to float at a stable altitude of about 33.2 km (109,000 feet) for long durations despite the heating and cooling of the day/night cycle. The balloon started experiencing significant altitude drops at night when the temperature dropped, regaining its predicted altitude during the day as the temperature rose.

Flight controllers dropped ballast to manage altitude loss during cold storms, which can see atmospheric temperatures at -50 degrees and below. In the 11th day of flight, the team was left with just 74 pounds of ballast and still 2,000 miles away from South America.

Facing a poor weather forecast that would lead to even lower altitudes with little ballast remaining, NASA preemptively ended the flight to ensure the greatest level of control and safety during descent.

"It's unfortunate that our flight has come to an end at this point-our goal was at least two weeks and our hope was for many more weeks beyond that," said Debbie Fairbrother, NASA's Balloon Program Office chief. "We were able to collect a great amount of flight data, however, which we'll analyze in the coming weeks and months to see if we can determine a cause for the leak. We'll apply lessons learned to future flights as we continue to develop this technology."

Flying on this year's SPB test flight was the International Extreme Universe Space Observatory-SPB payload. EUSO-SPB is a high-energy cosmic ray particle astrophysics payload testing a fluorescence detector and its supporting technologies under the severe operating conditions of the stratosphere.

"The international EUSO Collaboration is deeply thankful for the support, expertise, and dedication of NASA to this historic opportunity to open a new window onto the universe," said Angela V. Olinto, professor at the University of Chicago and principal investigator (PI) of the project. "Our flight was cut short, but we are confident that the super pressure balloon approach to observing the most energetic cosmic particles will pioneer a new understanding of these extreme phenomena."

"EUSO-SPB performed well, and more than 60 GB of data was downloaded to ground," said, Lawrence Wiencke, professor at the Colorado School of Mines and deputy PI for the EUSO-SPB flight. "We are looking forward to analyzing the data and to another super pressure balloon flight with NASA."

NASA conducted a thorough environmental analysis of an open-ocean landing before beginning its mid-latitude SPB flight program in 2015. The open-ocean flight termination procedure makes use of the two-ton flight payload as an anchor to pull the entire balloon flight train to the bottom of the ocean as quickly as possible. In this way, the balloon does not remain in the primary water column zone where most marine species are known to live, minimizing environmental impacts.

NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia manages the agency's scientific balloon flight program with 10 to 15 flights each year from launch sites worldwide. Orbital ATK, which operates NASA's Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine, Texas, provides mission planning, engineering services and field operations for NASA's scientific balloon program. The CSBF team has launched more than 1,700 scientific balloons in the over 35 years of operation.

Russian engineers develop new surveillance, missile defense airships
Moscow (Sputnik) May 10, 2017
Russian engineers are designing new advanced airships which may become a potent element of the country's anti-ballistic missile defenses. On May 6, 1937, the German passenger airship Hindenburg crashed in the US during a docking attempt, dealing a critical blow to the public's faith in this method of transportation. And yet despite the fact that mankind has since perfected other meth ... read more

Related Links
NASA's Balloon Program
Aerospace News at

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

'Awesomesauce,' proclaims US astronaut on historic spacewalk

Six-legged livestock - sustainable food production

External commercial ISS platform starts second mission

NASA Receives Proposals for Future Solar System Mission

SpaceX launches Inmarsat communications satellite

Testing Prepares NASA's Space Launch System for Liftoff

N. Korea's 'new missile' has unprecedented range: experts

NASA Affirms Plan for First Mission of SLS, Orion

Opportunity Reaches 'Perseverance Valley'

Ancient Mars impacts created tornado-like winds that scoured surface

Mars Rover Opportunity Begins Study of Valley's Origin

Seasonal Flows in Valles Marineris

A cabin on the moon? China hones the lunar lifestyle

China tests 'Lunar Palace' as it eyes moon mission

China to conduct several manned space flights around 2020

Reach for the Stars: China Plans to Ramp Up Space Flight Activity

Allied Minds' portfolio company BridgeSat raises $6 million in Series A financing

AIA report outlines policies needed to boost the US Space Industry competitiveness

Blue Sky Network Targets Key Markets For Iridium SATCOM Solutions

How Outsourcing Your Satellite Related Services Saves You Time and Money

"Airbus Friedrichshafen: new satellite hub lays groundwork for the future"

Physics may bring faster solutions for tough computational problems

A bath for precision printing of 3-D silicone structures

Physical keyboards make virtual reality typing easier

'Warm Neptune' Has Unexpectedly Primitive Atmosphere

Astrophysicists find that planetary harmonies around TRAPPIST-1 save it from destruction

Two Webb instruments well suited for detecting exoplanet atmospheres

Variable Winds on Hot Giant Exoplanet Help Study of Magnetic Field

Waves of lava seen in Io's largest volcanic crater

Not So Great Anymore: Jupiter's Red Spot Shrinks to Smallest Size Ever

The PI's Perspective: No Sleeping Back on Earth!

ALMA investigates 'DeeDee,' a distant, dim member of our solar system

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement