Super Pressure Balloons

"The performance of the Aerostar balloons has been outstanding. The scientists are elated with the altitude profiles. It's clear that Aerostar's commitment to quality is paying dividends to the science community. These balloons are absolutely perfect."

- Danny Ball, Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility Site Manager
 

Ultra Long Duration Missions

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, providing greater stability at float altitude and allowing for ground-breaking scientific, engineering and communication advances. These balloons can carry up to 6,000 pounds of payload to 130,000 feet (24.6 miles) above sea level and range in sizes up to 40 million cubic feet when they reach their preferred altitude.

The benefits of Raven Aerostar’s Super Pressure Balloon design are many. Balloon missions can be planned and executed at a fraction of the cost and time requirement of orbital missions. This technology also provides the benefit of recoverable payloads, preserving and, in some cases, re-using the equipment. Along with cost savings and recoverable payloads, this platform allows the flexibility to “refresh” the payload technology with each flight, allowing for the most cutting edge developments to fly each time.
 

Mission Possibilities

  • Scientific data collection

  • Remote communications

  • GPS augmentation

  • Intelligence gathering

  • Persistent surveillance

  • Reconnaissance

  • Radar calibration

  • Satellite simulation

  • Incremental testing

  • Research and development of sensors

High altitude balloons increase the line of sight (LOS) performance of sensors integrated on the balloon, providing increased detection, recognition and identification capabilities.

Solving Great Challenges

Raven Aerostar has been quietly involved in the cutting edge of lighter-than-air technology since the late-1940s.

Temperatures at altitude can routinely reach temperatures as cold as -80 degrees Celsius. The material used in Raven Aerostar’s Super Pressure Balloons is made with a special formulation of polyethylene film that retains its strength, helium permeability and ductility at extreme altitudes. The design and materials used are uniform in thickness and possess outstanding heat seal ability.

Full Range of Capabilities

Raven Aerostar balloons are used in applications where reliability is critical. Raven Aerostar’s flight operations systems and crews have an impressive success rate in conducting flight operations for customers. In dozens of flight operations per year, virtually every customer payload has been successfully flown and returned to the customer for data analysis. We have a success rate of over 95% with NASA’s payloads of over 6,000 pounds.

Proven History

For decades, Raven Aerostar has been on the forefront of high-altitude research and has a distinguished history of collaborating with university, scientific and military partners.

2009

Raven Aerostar's seven million cubic foot prototype Super Pressure Balloon, built for NASA's Balloon program, surpassed two weeks of near constant altitude flight over the Antarctic Continent.

2011

Raven Aerostar announced the successful flights of multiple stratospheric balloons, including the Raven manufactured Super Pressure Balloon, manufactured for NASA. For more than 3 weeks it flew at a consistent altitude of 111,000 feet with a deviation of less than 500 feet. While the balloon was showing no signs of stress, NASA brought the balloon down to ensure ease of recoverability of the payload.

2013

Google and Raven Aerostar announced their collaboration to provide high-speed wireless Internet accessibility to rural, remote and underserved areas. Called Project Loon, this innovative solution utilizes Raven Aerostar Super Pressure Balloons as well as the flight control system that guides the balloon safely throughout its mission.

Highly Engineered, Technologically Manufactured

At altitude, Super Pressure Balloons maintain a pressure higher than that of the external atmosphere. The film used in the manufacture of Raven Aerostar Super Pressure Balloons allows pressure changes through the diurnal cycle, maintaining a longer, more constant altitude. At flight termination, the balloon’s destruct device rapidly deflates the balloon, and a Raven Aerostar parachute is employed to recover the payload.

Super Pressure Balloon Benefits

  • Low cost

  • Vibration-free

  • Highly reliable

  • Quick response times

  • Ultra long duration flights

  • Near unlimited launch sites

  • Fully recoverable payloads