Recently in the Balloon Category


NASA-Funded Balloon Launches to Study Sun

On Jan. 18, 2016, the GRIPS balloon team sent their instrument soaring towards the stratosphere above Antarctica, suspended underneath a helium-filled, football-field sized scientific balloon.

Residents in the Southern Hemisphere's mid-latitudes, such as Argentina and South Africa, may catch a glimpse of a large NASA heavy-lift scientific balloon as it travels around the globe on a potentially record-breaking flight.

"NASA is accepting applications from graduate and undergraduate university students to fly experiments to the edge of space on a scientific balloon next year. The balloon competition is a joint project between NASA and the Louisiana Space Consortium (LaSPACE) in Baton Rouge. NASA is targeting fall 2013 for the next flight opportunity for the High Altitude Student Platform (HASP). HASP is a balloon-borne instrument stack that provides an annual near-space flight opportunity for 12 instruments built by students A panel of experts from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and LaSPACE will review the applications and select the finalists for the next flight opportunity. Flights are launched from the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility's remote site in Fort Sumner, N.M., and typically achieve 15 to 20 hours' duration at an altitude of about 23 miles." More

"NASA Dryden Flight Research Center has released a solicitation entitled "NASA Announcement of Flight Opportunities (AFO) for Payloads Maturing Crosscutting Technologies that Advance Multiple Future Space Missions to Flight Readiness Status. The current solicitation cycle, AFO #6, provides access to flights on parabolic flights, suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicles (sRLV), and high-altitude balloons. Applications are due on or before 11:59 PM Eastern Time December 21, 2012, and selections will be announced in February 2013 (target)." More

"NASA's space missions cost millions and millions of dollars, but a British teenager has managed to get some stunning shots of planet Earth using just a camera he bought on eBay and a do-it-yourself spacecraft. Nineteen-year-old Adam Cudworth spent just 40 hours and about $600 to grab the images you see above, according to a Telegraph report. He placed the camera, a simple Canon A570, in an insulated box with a GPS device, radio transmitter and microprocessor. Then he used a balloon to send the makeshift spacecraft more than 20 miles into the sky -- high enough, his photos show, to capture dramatic views of the Earth's curvature." More at Mashable

Announcement of Flight Opportunities #5

Flight Opportunities for Payloads Maturing Crosscutting Technologies that Advance Multiple Future Space Missions to Flight Readiness Status

"Dear Flight Opportunities community: We are pleased to announce the release of Announcement of Flight Opportunities #5 (AFO5) today. This new call brings back the opportunity to propose to the parabolic flight platform, in addition to our current sRLV and balloon providers. Proposal due date is September 21, with a tentative announcement of selections in November 2012."

"On September 22 we are going to send 1000 student projects to the edge of space. These experiments and projects are made by kindergartners, university professors, high school science classes and home schools kids. All the projects fit inside ping pong balls. We call them PongSats. Students from all over the world send us their PongSats we fly them to 100,000 feet on weather balloons. After the landing the PongSats are returned to their creators along with data from the flight a DVD with video of the launch and on board scenes and a certificate showing they flew."

More at Kickstarter

Using Airships for Space Research

NASA Solicitation: Airship Flight Services for NASA Ames Research Center

"NASA/ARC intends to purchase the flight services from Airship Ventures, Inc. of Mountain View, CA to fly its Zeppelin NT107 Airship in support of research. The airship has specific maneuvering, acceleration, and hovering capabilities unavailable through other aircraft and airship companies. The services will also require the installation of research equipment onto the airship, and contractor-support during flights."

"My Lego tribute to the end of the space shuttle era. Proving that although retired, this machine can still fly, albeit in toy form. The launch took place from central Germany and reached a max altitude of 35000m. A 1600g meteo balloon filled with helium was used alongside a GoPro Hero, Spot GPS and of course Lego Space Shuttle model 3367." More

Rensselaer Students Reach the Edge of Space--and They Have a Video To Prove It

"Members of a student club at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have created a unique 360-degree video chronicling a weather balloon's 89,777-foot ascent into space. The Rensselaer Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) club launched their high-atmosphere balloon in late January. Filled with condensed helium, the balloon carried a payload of three high-definition video cameras and GPS equipment. SEDS members retrieved the payload--which was carefully designed to withstand a significant impact--after the balloon popped at its peak altitude and fell to the Earth's surface. All three video cameras were intact, and club members "stitched together" footage from the three perspectives into a single 360-degree video."

Boing Boing: "Chris sez, "My name is Chris Peterson. I run web communications for MIT Admissions and have been a loyal BB reader for years. For the last several years we have been sending our admitted students their acceptance letters in cardboard tubes. First because we sent a poster, but now it's its own thing. 2012 is the anniversary of an old MIT balloon hack, so we put a letter in all of the Early Action admit tubes telling them we wanted them to hack the tubes somehow. Lots of them are great, but this one, from Erin King (MIT '16) in Georgia, is the best."

YouTube direct link

Keith's note:I sent my old NASA badge to the summit of Mt. Everest [image], so ... I totally understand.

NASA Solicitation: Payloads Requiring a Near-zero or Reduced Gravity Environment

"NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT) seeks to mature towards flight readiness status crosscutting technologies that perform relevant environment testing and advance multiple future space missions. To facilitate this goal, NASA is providing access to certain flight opportunities available to the Agency, on a no-exchange-of funds basis, to entities that have technology payloads meeting specified criteria. They may be exposed to a near-zero or reduced gravity environment on high-altitude balloons, flying on aircraft that provide parabolic flight trajectories and on suborbital reusable launch vehicles (sRLVs) that are potentially capable of flying to altitudes above 100 km."

NASA Seeking Student Experiments For Balloon Flight

"NASA is accepting applications from graduate and undergraduate university students to fly experiments to the edge of space on a scientific balloon. This balloon flight competition is a joint project between NASA and the Louisiana Space Consortium (LaSPACE) in Baton Rouge. NASA is targeting fall 2012 for the next flight opportunity for the LaSPACE maintained High Altitude Student Platform (HASP) facility. HASP is a balloon-borne instrument stack that provides an annual near-space flight opportunity for 12 undergraduate and graduate student-built instruments."

New Airship Record Set by JP Aerospace

JP Aerospace Airship Flies to the Edge of Space, Smashing the Existing World Altitude Record

"On Saturday morning, October 22, 2011, The Tandem airship was launched from Nevada's Black Rock desert. The airship flew to 95,085 feet, higher than any airship in history. After fighting through extreme turbulence from 40,000 to 60,000 feet, Tandem soared to 95,085 feet. Tandem flew nearly four miles higher than any airship before. The pilot on the ground then remotely turned on the motors and flew the airship through a series of maneuvers. At the end of its mission one balloon burst and the command was sent to release the other balloon. Tandem was then carried to a soft landing by a row of five parachutes."

Erich Leeth: This is what space looks like from a weather balloon. We're working on determining exactly what altitude we got to, but I'd put it somewhere near 100,000 feet. Photos on Flickr

You can see about half of the city of Lubbock along the bottom of the photo just right of center.
We launched our little spacecraft (Cygnus) at 9:02am from ‎33° 49' 28"N 102° 53' 56"W, and it touched back down to Earth at 11:56am at 33° 19' 21"N 101° 59' 42"W. 62 miles from where it was released. This image was taken 1 hour and 55 minutes into the flight.

Think about this: If you visit the Galaxy JPN YouTube channel sponsored by Samsung Mobile Japan's Space Balloon Project you'll see a large number of videos shot aboard a high altitude balloon. A small astronaut action figure is holding up a smartphone and people's text messages and images appear on the phone's screen while the Earth's surface passes far below. The organizers claim that more than 380,000 people saw this live stream from space.

Images were taken at approximately 64,000 ft. More to follow. More information at Questforstars.com. Additional photos are online here at Twitpic.

When Space Shuttle Endeavour makes its final trip into space it will be under the watchful eye of a high altitude balloon built and flown by students and volunteers from across the U.S. This will be the second flight of a camera-equipped payload, the first having been successfully flown during in February 2011 when images were obtained of Space Shuttle Discovery's launch from a vantage point of over 100,000 feet.

Space Shuttle Endeavour's Final Launch Inspires Hands-on Public Engagement

"When Space Shuttle Endeavour makes its final trip into space it will be under the watchful eye of a high altitude balloon built and flown by students and volunteers from across the U.S. This will be the second flight of a camera-equipped payload, the first having been successfully flown during in February 2011 when images were obtained of Space Shuttle Discovery's launch from a vantage point of over 100,000 feet. This balloon mission will be conducted by Quest for Stars, a non profit educational organization, in coordination with the Challenger Center for Space Science Education and the Coalition for Space Exploration."

Students and educators nationwide will have the opportunity to interact with NASA engineers and scientists through two newly developed NASA flight initiatives. The programs, developed at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, are designed to give students and educators hands-on flight experiences using NASA sounding rockets and scientific balloons.

Physics Lesson from 75,000 Feet

"Physics teachers from Bergen County Technical High School - Paramus campus, NJ, along with Project Aether's Ben Longmier (www.ProjectAether.org), hold a physics lesson from 75,000 ft. With coordination from the FAA, the high school student high altitude weather balloon was released from the NASCAR Pocono Raceway on Apr 8 at 11:15am." More.

Keith's note: This photo was taken during the STS-133 mission. Shuttle and ISS crew members pose with a printout of one of the photos taken of the Discovery's ascent into space by the Robonaut-1 balloon flown by Quest for Stars in collaboration with the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. Larger view.

- Video: Robonaut-1: Time Lapse View: Entire flight from Liftfoff to Touchdown
- Educational Balloon Provides Space Shuttle Launch Images and Video From Over 110,000 feet
- First Photos: Shuttle Discovery's Trail Into Space As Seen from Over 70,000 Feet in a Balloon

NASA has selected four high school teams as finalists in the 2011 Balloonsat High Altitude Flight competition. The winning teams' experiments will be launched on a NASA helium weather balloon between May 18 and 20. Because balloon flights are weather-contingent, the exact flight day will be announced that week. The weather balloon will be sent into the stratosphere, a near-space environment at an altitude of approximately 100,000 feet. The selected high school teams and their experiments are:

"Rise to the edge of space, freefall for 50,000 feet, fly through clouds, and land gently in bushes"

Educational Balloon Provides Space Shuttle Launch Images and Video From Over 110,000 feet

"A balloon with a student-oriented payload shot high resolution photos and video from an altitude of over 110,000 feet of Space Shuttle Discovery as it climbed into space.These images and video were released today as part of a mission report provided by Quest for Stars representative Bobby Russell at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) at the University of Central Florida."

Keith's note: This is a much longer version of the previously released video - with music. If at all possible watch this at 720p resolution. As the payload slowly rotates you will see Discovery's vapor trail at the Earth's limb. The payload (with camera) swings to the west (where the sun is) and then swings back to the east, past Discovery's vapor trail, around to the west again and then continues to rotate to the east toward the fading vapor trail.

Educational Balloon Provides Space Shuttle Launch Images and Video From Over 110,000 feet

"Last week a balloon with a student-oriented payload shot high resolution photos and video from an altitude of over 110,000 feet of Space Shuttle Discovery as it climbed into space.These images and video were released today as part of a mission report provided by Quest for Stars representative Bobby Russell at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) at the University of Central Florida."

Video From The Edge of Space

If you can, watch this video in HD (select the 720p option). As the payload slowly rotates you will see Discovery's vapor trail at the Earth's limb - twice. The payload (with camera) first swings to the west and then reverses and swings back to the east, past Discovery's vapor trial, around to the west again, and then continues to rotate to the east toward the vapor trail again.

Last week a balloon with a student-oriented payload shot high resolution photos and video from an altitude of over 110,000 feet of Space Shuttle Discovery as it climbed into space.These images and video were released today as part of a mission report provided by Quest for Stars representative Bobby Russell at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) at the University of Central Florida. More information on this conference can be found at http://nsrc.swri.org

Make sure watch in HD! More Robonaut-1 mission video and imagery will be released in conjunction with a presentation at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference being held in Orlando 28 Februrary to 2 March.

Co-sponsored by the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, this mission is one in a series of flights conducted by Quest for Stars, a California-based non-profit educational organization that uses off-the-shelf hardware and a little ingenuity to allow students to place experiments at the edge of space at exceptionally low cost.

Quest for Stars and the Challenger Center for Space Science Education have now joined together to promote the use of these low cost delivery systems. This mission will be the first of what is hoped to be many future collaborations.

- First Photos: Shuttle Discovery's Trail Into Space As Seen from Over 70,000 Feet in a Balloon
- Robonaut-1 Balloon Mission Live Video and Mission Updates
- Challenger Center and Quest For Stars Chase Attempt to Photograph Discovery At The Edge of Space

Co-sponsored by the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, this mission is one in a series of flights conducted by Quest for Stars, a California-based non-profit educational organization that uses off-the-shelf hardware and a little ingenuity to allow students to place experiments at the edge of space at exceptionally low cost. More information

This photo was taken from an an altitude of over 70,000 feet (still being determined exactly) at 5:20 pm EST on 24 February 2011. The camera used was the lowest resolution camera on board the Robonaut-1 balloon - a Motorola Droid X smartphone. You can see the plume left by Space Shuttle Discovery as it headed into space. We will be releasing more images of greater resolution and HD video very soon. Co-sponsored by the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, this mission is one in a series of flights conducted by Quest for Stars, a California-based non-profit educational organization that uses off-the-shelf hardware and a little ingenuity to allow students to place experiments at the edge of space at exceptionally low cost.More information

Robonaut-1 Balloon Mission Live Video and Mission Updates

"If all goes according to plan a balloon with a student-oriented payload will photograph Space Shuttle Discovery as it climbs into space from an altitude of 100,000 feet. There will also be live streaming video from the balloon itself during the mission - sent back by two regular smartphones running Google's Android operating system. Co-sponsored by the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, this mission is one in a series of flights conducted by Quest for Stars, a California-based non-profit educational organization that uses off-the-shelf hardware and a little ingenuity to allow students to place experiments at the edge of space at exceptionally low cost. Quest for Stars and the Challenger Center for Space Science Education have now joined together to promote the use of these low cost delivery systems. This mission will be the first of what is hoped to be many future collaborations." More information

NASA ARC is Testing Cubesats on Balloons

"Are smartphones so smart they can operate a spacecraft? NASA wants to find out. The space agency has for months been conducting tests to see if smartphones can survive by literally sending them to the edge of space. NASA last week conducted the most recent of these tests, sending an Android phone up nearly 100,000 feet on a balloon. Last August, it was a Google Nexus One phone on a rocket. "The cell phone industry has invested billions of dollars in these phones. They've packed a lot of capability into a really small volume," said Chris Boshuizen, a senior systems engineer at Logyx, a California-based technology firm. The power of today's smartphones rival those of many desktops and even exceed that of many satellites, said Boshuizen, which allows them to cheaply transmit photos and data. Phones running the Google Android OS have gigahertz processors, half a gigabyte of RAM, and accelerometers and magnetometers to measure gravity and direction." More at Fox News.

2011 High-Altitude Balloon Workshop

"This exciting three day hands-on workshop hosted by StratoStar Systems is focused on training and equipping professors / instructors in the STEM disciplines on how to implement high-altitude balloon launches in their classrooms and curricula with minimum effort, utilizing StratoStar's turn-key high-altitude flight products." February 25-27th 2011, Sacramento, CA Info at: http://www.stratostar.net/workshop/

NASA is inviting student teams to design and build experiments the agency will fly into the stratosphere, a near-space environment, more than 100,000 feet above the Earth. NASA's second annual Balloonsat High-Altitude Flight competition is open to student teams in ninth to 12th grades from the United States and its territories. Each team of four or more students must submit an experiment proposal to NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland by Feb. 11. Student teams may propose experiments on a wide range of topics, from bacteria studies to weather observations.

"Seven styrofoam beer coolers sit lined up behind the open hatchback of an SUV, parked next to a soccer field in California's rural Central valley. Each box contains a black Google Nexus S phone, mounted with their cameras facing out through a clear plastic cut-out in the side. Some of the boxes/phones have consumer-grade wide-angle sport video cameras mounted on the outside, odd bits of custom-soldered circuitry poke out of others." More at New Scientist

"Video from a camera attached to a weather balloon that rose into the upper stratosphere and recorded the blackness of space. Seven-year-old Max Geissbuhler and his dad Luke Geissbuhler dreamed of visiting space. Armed with just a weather balloon, a video camera, and an iPhone, they basically did just that. The father-and-son team from Brooklyn managed to send their homemade spacecraft up nearly 19 miles, high into the stratosphere, bringing back perhaps the most impressive amateur space footage ever. The duo housed the video camera, iPhone, and GPS equipment in a specially designed insulated casing, along with some hand-warmers and a note from Max requesting its safe return from whomever may find it after making it back to solid ground. All told, father and son spent eight months preparing for their homemade journey into space, in hopes of filming "the blackness beyond our earth."

Brooklyn Space Program
[Via Cultofmac]

Fly your experiment to the edge of space

ESA is inviting students to propose experiments to fly on sounding rockets and stratospheric balloons. The winning teams will have the opportunity to design and build an experiment for the BEXUS balloons or the REXUS rockets.

The BEXUS (Balloon-borne Experiments for University Students) 12 and 13 balloons will be launched in October 2011 and the REXUS (Rocket-borne Experiments for University Students) 11 and 12 sounding rockets will be launched in March 2012, all from Kiruna in northern Sweden.

The REXUS/BEXUS programme is realised under a bilateral Agency Agreement between the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB). The Swedish share of the payload has been made available to students from other European countries through a collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA).

The Pacific Star Project recently launched a balloon with several digital cameras bought on eBay that were controlled by a hacked script and packaged inside a homemade insulated payload container. The cameras made it to an altitude of 24 miles where they took some amazing photos.

NASA is accepting applications from students at U.S. colleges and universities who want to send their experiments to the edge of space on a high-flying scientific balloon.

The annual NASA project provides near space access for 12 undergraduate and graduate student experiments to be carried by a NASA high-altitude research balloon. The flights typically last 15 to 20 hours and reach an altitude of 23 miles. Experiments may include compact satellites or prototypes.

The experiments are flown aboard the High Altitude Student Platform, or HASP, a balloon-born instrument stack launched from the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility's remote site in Fort Sumner, N.M. The goals of the project are to provide a space test platform to encourage student research and stimulate the development of student satellite payloads and other space-engineering products.