Purpose of the flight and payload description
This flight was part of a study carried out by Aerostar International Inc. a stratospheric balloon manufacturing film, to demonstrate the use of the ballonet method for altitude control. A ballonet is an air bag located inside the outer envelope of a superpressure balloon which, when inflated, reduces the volume available for the lifting gas, making it more dense. Because air is also denser than the lifting gas, inflating the ballonet reduces the overall lift while deflating it increases lift. In this way, the ballonet can be used to adjust the flight altitude as required.
As part of the study, in March 2016, three stratospheric balloons were launched from Bend, Oregon over a period of 24 hours. The purpose of the mission was to demonstrate the use of real-time wind data to direct the balloons to a common landing point. This was done while avoiding restricted air space in Utah and Nevada. The three balloons were successfully directed on a path that carried them hundreds of miles apart during the flight. As they approached the western border of The White Sands Missile Range (a no fly zone) a decision was made to bring the systems down in an area West of Las Cruces, NM.
This decision was made while the balloons were over north-central Arizona. A termination point was selected and coordinated with the ARTCC in Albuquerque. Using altitude control to modify their ground tracks, the three balloons were directed to the same point for termination just north of Deming, NM. The three systems landed within a three mile radius of each other after a flight spanning 1,100 miles.
Details of the balloon flight
Balloon launched on: 3/15/2016 at 3:40 pdt
Launch site: Bend, Oregon, US
Balloon launched by: Aereostar International, Inc
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Super Pressure Balloon Superpressure balloon with balloonet inside
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 3/16/2016
Landing site: N of Deming, New Mexico, US