"Flying balloons into the stratosphere is a capability our nation's scientific community must have to stay on the cutting edge. Who knows what wonders may be born out of these experiments? I'm excited to find out. Raven Aerostar is committed to its balloon program and perfecting how to fly them in the stratosphere."
- Lon Stroschein, Raven Director of Corporate Development
Stratospheric LTA Flight
Raven Aerostar is a world leader in the design and fabrication of stratospheric scientific balloons and airships for near space applications.
Scientific balloons and stratospheric airships are used for near space applications requiring altitudes higher than an aircraft can fly and lower than a satellite's orbit.
Our Aerospace Platforms are built to exact standards for customers such as NASA, the U.S. Air Force and JPL. They are used for a multitude of missions, including communications, data relay, surveillance and intelligence.
Raven Aerostar's high altitude research balloons can carry payloads from just a few pounds up to 8000 pounds and can reach altitudes up to 45 kilometers, capable of sustaining altitude for several months.
Raven Aerostar's Aerospace Platforms
Super Pressure Balloons
Raven Aerostar's Super Pressure Balloon design and development has made long-duration missions in the stratosphere possible. The balloon is designed to be pressurized during both day and night operations, allowing the balloon to maintain a near-constant altitude while at float. These balloons can carry up to 8,000 pounds of payload to 110,000 feet (20.8 miles) above sea level and range in sizes up to 26 million cubic feet when they reach their preferred altitude.
Zero Pressure Balloons
Zero Pressure Balloons can maintain altitude from a few days up to multiple months and are capable of both short and long flight durations. To reach an equilibrium altitude, Zero Pressure Balloons utilize a channel duct, which vents gas into the atmosphere once the balloon is fully inflated. Because the balloon’s pressure matches that of the outside atmosphere, during the balloon’s flight, the balloon’s altitude fluctuates with changes in the atmosphere. To provide a more consistent flight pattern, ballast is released (by radio command to a relay) to minimize altitude drops. These balloons can carry up to 8,000 pounds of payload to 135,000 feet (25.6 miles) above sea level and range in sizes up to 40 million cubic feet when they reach their preferrd altitude.
Raven Aerostar's Sounding Balloons are ideal for short-duration missions. A Sounding Balloon is designed to ascend into the atmosphere until the balloon becomes fully inflated, bringing its payload to a specified altitude. Once the pressure becomes too great, the balloon will terminate by bursting. Once the platform terminates, a parachute deploys and the user payload is sent back to Earth. Built for relatively light payloads and constructed from polyethylene, Raven Aerostar's Sounding Balloons can be launched in winds up to 15 knots without issue and offer predictable, consistent performance.
High Altitude Airships
To fly an unmanned airship between 60,000-70,000 feet above the surface of the earth has been the challenge of the last 40 years. This area of the atmosphere is a highly desired flight altitude, as it is higher than most aircraft fly and has generally lower speed wind, allowing for an airship to station over a specific area. In 2005, Raven Aerostar successfully launched and flew the second airship in history to achieve powered flight in the stratosphere (the first one, which flew in 1970, was also a Raven product). Today, Aerostar continues extensive development of the next high altitude airship.
Payload Recovery Parachutes
Payload Recovery Parachutes parachutes are designed to open quickly at altitudes up to 150,000 feet and can successfully recover payload weights up to 8,000 pounds. At the end of a balloon's flight, the cutter separates the parachute from the base of the balloon, the parachute opens and the payload descends to the ground.