Orbital ATK announces super pressure balloon success


Orbital ATK has announced the successful launch of its first scientific balloon flight as the operator of NASA’s balloon program.

The company was part of NASA’s super-pressure balloon (SPB) launch from New Zealand, marking the first achievement for Orbital ATK in scientific balloon operations since NASA awarded the contract in November 2014.

The contract is administered by the Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, and managed from the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF) in Palestine, Texas. The Columbia team has launched more than 1,700 scientific balloons from seven countries in the past 35 years.

Under NASA’s direction, Orbital ATK’s team of mission specialists from CSBF launched the balloon from Wanaka Airport, New Zealand, on March 26. The team provided program management, mission planning, engineering services and field operations for the launch.

Flight managers will now monitor the balloon’s ability to achieve a stable altitude of 110,000ft with a suspended 2.5 ton payload for up to 100 days. The payload consists of tracking and communication instruments that are needed for the test flight. 

April 7, 2015

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