Scientific Balloon Solutions news stories
World Records for Distance and Duration
Alan Adamson has launched two SBS-13 super pressure balloons that are breaking world records for distance and duration with GPS proven telemetry. His flight, call sign, HIRFW-6 has traveled the equivalent distance to the moon and back! Alan, designs, builds and programs his own custom trackers for APRS and WSPR communications. When they are not in APRS coverage, WSPR seems to work exceptionally well and provides world-wide coverage. Both trackers transmit, 10mW on APRS, and 12-13mW on WSPR. They are using solar panels which are 1.5 x 2 inches in size and run on sunlight only, (solar powered). Low solar angle doesn’t seem to be much of an issue, as long as there is some sunlight, but no light… well, then they don’t report.
The first flight, call sign HIRF-3 for APRS and HIRFW-3 on 20 meters WSPR, using call sign K4MEA. This tracker has a cold start hardware issue and only reports randomly.
Last updated on 5/29/2017
• Launched, 8/22/2016
• Duration, 277+ days
The second flight, call sign HIRF-6 for APRS and HIRFW-6 on 20 meters WSPR, using call sign K4JCW. With the exception of three days since it was launched, it’s reported its position every single day!
Last updated on 11/18/2017
• Launched, 9/20/2016
• Duration, 424+ Days, and still flying
• Distance, over 1,077,000 km
• Laps around the world, 23
Around the World
Scientific Balloon Solutions has many customers with super pressure balloon flights that have made it around the world, see list below. Some of these ultra-long duration flights have made it around the world several times, allowing for more scientific data collection, research and development of sensors, satellite simulation, engineering and communication advances.
Congratulations to Alan Adamson who has a SBS-13 super pressure balloon flight, (HIRFW-6) that is breaking world records for distance and duration with GPS proven telemetry.
CNSP-21 K6RPT-12 CNSP-24 K6RPT-11 CNSP-29 K6RPT-12 CNSP-30 K6RPT-11 HIRFW-3 HIRFW-5 HIRFW-6 WB8ELK-2 KK6PNN-5 KD0VJI-11 SP9UOB-10 SP9UOB-P30 KM4FSW (VR2UIF-12)
First US University to Fly Around the World
Six Times Around the World: UC San Diego Researchers Send a Balloon Around the Globe
Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, just above commercial air traffic, a small, hydrogen-filled balloon is reporting on its whereabouts to researchers in a UC San Diego lab who are listening intently. The balloon—called a super pressure balloon—was launched by a group of UC San Diego students and researchers about 100 days ago from campus and is on its sixth lap around the globe.
This is the first time a balloon from UC San Diego has made it across the country—let alone the world. The February 12 launch is part of a unique program headed by structural engineering professor John Kosmatka and supported by NASA’s California Space Grant Consortium.
“The program is meant to inspire students to pursue science and engineering by involving them and their educators in hands-on experiments that venture to the edge of space,” said Kosmatka.
Now that they’ve been successful flying a balloon around the world, the team of students and researchers hopes to be able to hold public launches to help get kids excited about science.
“For most kids, near-space ballooning is the closest they can get to space,” said Ellis. “These small super pressure balloons are functionally orbiting the earth for a fraction of the cost it takes to build a cube satellite.”
The hydrogen-filled super pressure balloon was launched by a group of UC San Diego undergraduates, a graduate student, Kosmatka and mentors Karl Cain and Phil Karn on February 12, with the hopes of it reaching Europe. The balloon is about 3 feet wide and 7.5 feet tall.
“Flying a balloon across the country has been a goal for us for awhile,” said Spencer Ellis, fourth year mechanical engineering graduate student and the lead researcher on the project.
Anyone can track the location of the balloon via tracker.habhub.org and selecting balloon (KK6PNN-5). As of June 6, the balloon was hovering near Beijing, China.
“I’ve learned a lot about the technology. I never realized how much wind is a factor in near-space ballooning,” said undergraduate computer engineering student Matt Ho.
The balloon is carrying a small, minimalistic payload designed by high-altitude balloon expert Bill Brown that weighs 11 grams. It contains a microcontroller that reads GPS and temperature sensors, which are encoded by a solar-powered transmitter so it can be tracked. By keeping the cost ultra low, UC San Diego students and researchers can use the balloons and payloads for small research projects and STEM outreach.
According to Ellis, being able to track the balloon is an exciting way for kids to learn about the world. “As they follow the balloon’s progress, they can imagine where it is and look up facts and pictures about the places the balloon has been to.”
In the future, the researchers hope to add additional sensors for atmospheric monitoring, so that they can track things like pollution coming from airplanes and validate weather patterns.
First Middle School to Fly Around the World
Forestview Middle School, located in Baxter, Minnesota, has been running a High Altitude Balloon class since 2011. The class is run as an after school STEM class for grades 6-8. We meet for 6 weeks, for 1.5 hours each day. We have successfully launched 8 balloons to the edge of the atmosphere. In 2013, our program was a grand prize winner in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest. This contest highlights STEM programs throughout the US. As the result of our win, our program was featured in US News and World Report and Forbes magazine.
This year we wanted to add floater balloons to our program. Our goal was one trip around the Earth. We have been watching other groups send these types of balloons with great success. We were fortunate to meet Bill Brown via the internet. We purchased one of Bill Brown’s SkyTrackers and, using a SBS-13 balloon from Scientific Balloon Solutions;, we gave it a go. Our first attempt at launching a floater failed, and the SkyTracker never checked in. We suspect the balloon iced up since it had to pass through a low cloud deck. This did not deter us from trying again. We purchased all the necessary items and waited for the best conditions to launch. Our balloon was launched on March 14 and has since made one full trip around the Earth in 16 days. The floater is currently working on it’s second lap.
Our program has been highly received in our local community. We have been featured numerous times in our local newspaper, and we have been invited to give a TEDx Talk on April 22. This has been a great validation of our award winning program. We were notified by Scientific Balloon Solutions that we are the first middle school in the world to successfully send a super pressure balloon around the world.
In the Fall of 2017, our program is going to be launching a group of floaters that will be used in the science classroom to teach the students about the complexities of weather and predicting patterns. These balloons will be studied as they make their way around the globe. The students will then be able to use this information to see how we are all affected by global patterns. Geography teachers are excited about using the location of the floaters to study both geography and current events based on the location of the floaters.
Scientific Balloon Solutions is a scientific balloon manufacturing company. We design and build long duration super pressure balloons. Our balloons are designed to be pressurized during both day and night, providing greater stability at float altitude and allowing for more scientific data collection, research and development of sensors, satellite simulation, engineering and communication advances.