Sioux Falls, SD (April 27, 2015)— Raven Aerostar’s (NASDAQ: RAVN) largest Super Pressure Balloon ever built has surpassed 31 days amid the stratosphere’s harsh elements as part of a NASA mission, demonstrating the scientific balloon’s extended flight duration and ability to maintain constant altitudes.
“Raven Aerostar is doing what has never been done before. Putting a balloon in orbit with persistent altitude over a long duration changes everything previously understood about access to space¾especially cost per flight hour,” stated Lon Stroschein, Vice President and General Manager of Raven Aerostar.
Raven Aerostar has been NASA’s design partner for stratospheric balloons for more than 20 years, and at 5:12 p.m. EDT on March 26, a record-breaking Super Pressure Balloon (SPB) was successfully launched in mid-latitudes from Wanaka, New Zealand—carrying a two-and-half-ton NASA payload.
Debora Fairbrother, NASA Balloon Program Office Chief, said, “The success of this latest NASA balloon mission is yet another testament of our long-standing partnership with Raven Aerostar. Raven Aerostar delivers high quality balloons, which NASA has flown for 20+ years.”
Raven Aerostar personnel were onsite for the launch, providing balloon preparations, integration, and flight operations support to Orbital ATK, the prime contractor of NASA’s balloon program. The SPB lifted to the stratosphere at a rate of ~300 meters (1,000 feet) per minute and successfully entered float within an impressive 99% accuracy of its targeted altitude.
“The successful launch demonstrated the value of an experienced and dedicated team that will help maintain Wallops Flight Facility’s position as the world leader in scientific ballooning operations. These long duration balloon flights help provide critical scientific data, create new technologies and trigger new discoveries,” said John Pullen, General Manager, Technical Services Division of Orbital ATK’s Space Systems Group.
The Raven Aerostar Super Pressure Balloon exceeds 18 million cubic feet in volume (the size of a sports stadium) and is designed to maintain a constant float altitude at 110,000 feet, conserving helium and increasing flight endurance. These improvements provide better altitude stability for science instruments requiring more accuracy, creating new opportunities for scientific research on balloons.
“This mission is already considered a huge success at NASA.” Fairbrother continued, “We have maintained constant flight altitudes and 30+ days of duration. This is a great accomplishment, and each additional flight hour we log allows for additional data collection.”
Altitude stability is an area of expertise for Raven Aerostar; the company also collaborates with Google on its Project Loon Balloons. Raven Aerostar is working closely with Google in its audacious moonshot called Project Loon, designed to provide wireless internet access to millions of people worldwide. This innovative solution utilizes high altitude Super Pressure Balloons to beam internet access from great heights. Since Project Loon was revealed to the world, the partnership has resulted in stronger, longer-lasting balloons that are able to reliably survive the harsh elements of the stratosphere for months.
“Raven Aerostar continues to expand the limits of stratospheric performance and is accomplishing feats that have never been done,” explained Scott Wickersham, Director of Product Development for Raven Aerostar. “We are establishing a new realm of possibilities and remain dedicated to developing solutions with enhanced stratospheric capabilities.”
Uniquely, high altitude balloons cannot be fully tested before their maiden voyage. Raven Aerostar maintains the highest level of quality at all stages of manufacturing, from engineering to production; this proven approach continues to make Raven Aerostar the world leader in high altitude balloons today.
About Raven Aerostar: Raven Aerostar consists of wholly owned subsidiaries Aerostar International, Inc. and Vista Research, Inc. With a mission to connect, protect and save lives, Raven Aerostar is a world leader in the design and manufacture of highly technical aerospace, surveillance technology, navigation aids and specialty sewn products. Both Raven Aerostar and Raven Industries, Inc. are based in Sioux Falls, SD. The company has a rich history solving great challenges through its advanced technology; in addition to stratospheric balloons, Raven Aerostar’s engineers design and manufacture tethered aerostats and persistent surveillance solutions, Vista Radar Systems, marine navigation aids and protective wear. Raven Aerostar is committed to providing highly technical and groundbreaking technology for critical missions that can change the world.
About Raven Industries, Inc: Since 1956, Raven Industries has designed and manufactured high quality, high-value technical products. Raven is publicly traded on NASDAQ (RAVN) and has earned an international reputation for innovation, product quality, high performance, and unmatched service. Raven’s purpose is to solve great challenges in areas of study, feeding the world, energy independence and protecting natural resources. To realize this purpose, we utilize our strengths in engineering, manufacturing and technological innovation to serve the precision agriculture, high performance specialty films, aerospace, and situational awareness markets. Visit www.RavenInd.com for more information.
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