NASA's balloon facility finally renamed - 2/26/2006
More than 200 local and national dignitaries gathered at Palestine, Texas on Febraury 23th, 2006 to attend to the ceremony in wich the National Scientific Balloon Facility changed his name to the new denomination: Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility as a remembrance to the crew of the Columbia shuttle wich was destroyed in a reentry in 2003.
Prior to the unveiling of the CSBF's new sign (wich encloses 7 stars as a symbol of the astronauts and scientists that lost her lives in the mession), a ceremony featuring keynote speakers and NASA astronauts Dr. Stanley Love and Dr. John Grunsfeld was held at the site.
Also speaking during the ceremony were U.S. Congressman Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, State Sen. Todd Staples, R-Palestine, and State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana.
"The naming of this facility is a fitting tribute to those who gave their lives for space exploration" Hensarling said.
If you want to see a complete history of the NASA's balloon base, please visit the page devoted to it in this site, in the section Balloon Launch Sites. Althought writed in spanish the article has a link to made an automatic english translation.
Start of the second phase of ENVISAT's campaign - 2/22/2006
The second phase of the stratospheric balloon launch campaign for the
validation of data obtained by ENVISAT carried out in ESRANGE started on Febraury 18th with a technological flight.
According to the press release of the Swedish Space Corporation, "...the launch took place at 16:47 UT. All technical systems were tested and approved during this flight. After a flight time of nearly 3 Hours the balloon was taken down and landed near the village of Karesuando in the north part of Sweden..."
Also onboard was a Russian experiment called Flash-B to study the ozone layer.
The window launch of this second phase closes on March 4th. The campaign will include technical flights of superpressure balloons (constant volume and flight level) and the launch of the LPMA/DOAS gondola in a long duration flight over Russia.
RAVEN celebrates 50th Anniversary - 2/21/2006
Sioux Falls (SD), USA.- Raven Industries, founded in Sioux Falls in February 1956 by four General Mills executives involved in a high-altitude research balloon program, will celebrate its 50th anniversary.
South Dakota's wind is probably endured more than embraced, however Joe Kaliszewski, J.R. Smith, Duane Thon and Ed Yost established Raven in Sioux Falls in large measure because wind conditions were favorable for high altitude balloon flights.
In 1960, the company invented the modern hot air balloon. Dave Munson Sioux Falls's Mayor still remembers when Raven built them near Covell Lake.
Raven remains involved in balloon manufacturing, and it has developed three other enterprises. It makes reinforced plastic sheeting and precision controls for agricultural equipment, and performs electronic manufacturing services.
"How much they've expanded in different areas shows this is a great climate to do business in," Munson said of Sioux Falls. Raven employs 600 people in Sioux Falls and about 850 overall.
"We feel good about all four of those businesses and think they all have the capacity to grow and provide benefits to our shareholders and employees," said Tom Iacarella, Raven chief financial officer.
End for a balloon campaign on the Indian Ocean - 2/20/2006
Mahé (Seychelles Islands).-
Today, with the fall of the last balloon still in flight, comes to an end the project called VASCO-CIRENE, carried out during the first part of the year from the Seychelles Islands.
It was an experiment wich investigates various oceanic and atmospheric processes in the tropical Indian ocean, but its main focus is on ocean-atmosphere interactions at intraseasonal timescale. For this task they used two kind of balloons.
The first kind is the well known superpressure balloons, flying at 1.2 kilometers of height (which we see in the left image).
The less known balloon type, the Aeroclippers are tetrahedrical balloons drifting in the boundary layer winds (at a height of ~50 meters) with a guide rope hanging down to the surface of the sea. They collect sea surface measurements (temperature and salinity) as well as measurements in the surface boundary layer (humidity, temperature, height, relative wind).
The launch operations of superpressure balloon was acomplished using the local aerodrome were one of their hangars was used as integration building and the Aeroclippers were released from the sea shore near Mahé.
In the LMD web site located at http://www.lmd.ens.fr/vasco/ you can see the balloon paths and images of the campaign.
AURA campaign cancelled - 2/8/2006
(Sweden).- After two weeks of waiting for a suitable weather to launch the first balloon, was oficially cancelled today the campaign devoted to the validation of data obtained by the AURA satellite.
The bad weather and a unusually warm and slow polar vortex, grounded the two gondolas developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, to be launched this week from the European Space Range near Kiruna, in Northern Sweden.
After passing all the testing phase and declared "flight ready" on January 26th, a first launch was planned for January 31th, but the trajectory previsions showed perspectives of a overflight of populated areas of the Gulf of Bothia, so it was not acomplished. The next try of the JPL gondolas in the Arctic will be in 2007.