Status Report

Ultra-Long Duration Balloon Status Report

By SpaceRef Editor
March 12, 2001
Filed under ,

NASA is examining flight data following the termination
Sunday morning of the Ultra-Long Duration Balloon (ULDB)
mission launched Saturday from the Northern Territory of
Central Australia. The balloon reached its desired float
altitude of 112,000 feet before a NASA operations team decided
to bring it down.

The ULDB was launched from Alice Springs, Australia, at 9
a.m., March 10, local time (6:30 p.m. EST, March 9). The
flight ended 24 hours 42 minutes later when the balloon and
payload landed within one mile from the West Coast of
Australia. There were no injuries or damage to personal
property. Recovery operations are underway.

“Although the ULDB launch and ascent were very close to
normal, the balloon’s internal pressure was less than we
expected, but within acceptable margins, on Saturday afternoon
and evening,” said Steve Smith, Chief of the Balloon Program
Office at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops
Flight Facility, Wallops Island, VA. “At sunrise on Sunday
morning the balloon failed to regain its daytime pressure and
a decision was made to bring it down on the coast of

Smith added that a NASA team will review the gathered data and
examine the recovered balloon prior to a scheduled flight from
Antarctica in December of this year.

The ULDB is the largest-single cell, super-pressure (fully
sealed) balloon ever flown. It is designed to support missions
for up to 100 days and float above 99 percent of the Earth’s
atmosphere. The pumpkin-shaped balloon is composed of a
lightweight polyethylene film about the thickness of ordinary
plastic food wrap.

Further information on the ULDB program can be found at:

SpaceRef staff editor.