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Revolutionary Design For Stratospheric High Altitude Balloon Missions

This is the Super Pressure Balloon's 23-day course over ground.
by Staff Writers
Mcmurdo Station, Antarctica (SPX) Feb 23, 2011
Raven Aerostar announces the successful flights of multiple stratospheric balloons, including the Raven-manufactured Super Pressure Balloon (SPB) manufactured for NASA.

A 14 Million Cubic Foot (MCF) Super Pressure Balloon recently completed its 23-day science mission over Antarctica. The balloon was launched January 9 from the Ross Ice Shelf.

For more than three weeks it flew at a consistent altitude of 111,000 feet with a deviation of less than 500 feet. It is capable of flying a gross payload of 4,000 pounds.

Flight durations for super pressure balloons are of greater magnitude than conventional zero pressure balloons. While the balloon was showing no signs of stress, NASA brought the balloon down to ensure ease of recoverability of the payload, and the balloon community hails this flight as a tremendous success.

A consortium of companies, led by NASA, makes up the Super Pressure Balloon Team (SPB Team). Raven Aerostar of Sioux Falls, SD and Sulphur Springs, TX is the manufacturer of the balloons for the NASA science missions.

The material used in construction is a multilayer co-extruded polyethylene film made to NASA specifications. It is very uniform in thickness and possesses outstanding heat seal ability. As a science benefit, the balloon flies at a very uniform altitude regardless of day or night cycles.

Flight durations may be up to 100 days in length enabling new types of science experiments in the future. Lon Stroschein, Vice President and General Manager of Raven Aerostar, said, "Working with NASA engineers and flight crews to help affordably bring these science missions to life is rewarding for all of our employees."

Stroschein continued, "Raven Aerostar's mission is to remain the world's leader in fabric sewing and sealing technology for all lighter than air applications. Proving that we can do it in the stratosphere and live up to NASA's high standard sets us apart from our competition."

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