Raven Industries Scientific High-Altitude Balloon Breaks Records


Sioux Falls, SD (February 6, 2013) — Raven Aerostar (Nasdaq:RAVN) is pleased to announce its involvement with four successful high-altitude balloon experiments during the current Antarctica summer. For each program, Raven Aerostar designed and manufactured scientific balloons to carry equipment to specific altitudes in the Earth’s atmosphere. The success of all four campaigns has been overwhelmingly positive.

The highlight of this summer’s Antarctica experiments has been the Super-TIGER flight, a collaboration between NASA and several major colleges. The balloon is studying the origin of cosmic rays. The Super-TIGER balloon surpassed the duration record for a scientific balloon flown from Antarctica, having flown for 55 days, 1 hour, and 34 minutes aloft. The previous record of 54 days was also set by a Raven Aerostar balloon during the 2008-09 Antarctic summer.

“High-altitude balloon experiments are something Raven Aerostar has always done and we are very proud of,” Lon Stroschein, Raven Aerostar general manager, said. “Raven got its start in the 1950s as a balloon manufacturing company, and we have never forgotten those roots. We are proud of the resiliency and toughness of our balloons. I think that is why NASA and other researchers continue to work with us every year on their Antarctica projects.”

Since 1994, Raven Aerostar has worked with NASA and a number of partners to manufacture high-altitude scientific balloons for a wide variety of experiments during the Antarctic summer. Because it is located in the Southern Hemisphere, Antarctica experiences summer while the United States is undergoing winter. The continent combines a high-mountain desert with the coldest temperatures and harshest winds on the globe, allowing scientists to take advantage of unique and consistent wind conditions in order to easily launch and recover balloons. These balloons carry up to 6,000 pounds of payload and inflate to a size of 40 million cubic feet when they reach their altitude of 127,000 feet. Contrastingly, typical hot air balloons inflate to a size of only 90,000 cubic feet.

Antarctica balloon campaigns Raven Aerostar is involved with this summer:

  • Barrel – An experiment to study the Earth’s radiation belt. A total of 15 balloons have been launched from three sites for an astounding 115 days’ worth of combined flight time.
  • BLAST-Pol – Standing for “Balloon-borne Large-Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope,” this project is a telescope array, attached to a balloon, which is used to study the formation and evolution of stars, galaxies and clusters. The balloon flew for 16 days, 3 hours, and 17 minutes.
  • EBEX – A balloon-borne polarimeter designed to measure the intensity and polarization of the cosmic microwave background radiation, this platform had a flight time of 25 days, 11 hours, and 39 minutes.
  • Super-TIGER – An acronym for Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder, the project is a collaboration between Washington University in St. Louis, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, California Institute of Technology, Jet Propulsion Lab and the University of Minnesota.

There are two key reasons scientists want to take advantage of the Polar Summer for these experiments: consistent wind direction and constant sunlight. The combination makes it easier to predict the balloon’s course and keep it at the desired altitude. The consistent wind direction allows a balloon to fly at almost the same latitude throughout its flight. Since the sun does not set in Antarctica during its summer, the balloons get to fly in constant sunlight, preventing the significant altitude variations that come anytime a balloon is exposed to nightfall.

“Flying balloons into the stratosphere is a capability our nation’s scientific community must have to stay on the cutting edge,” Stroschein said. “Who knows what wonders may be born out of these experiments? I’m excited to find out. Raven Aerostar is committed to its balloon program and perfecting how to fly them in the stratosphere. This is an affordable technology that has potential applications in a lot of scientific disciplines, including remote communications, GPS augmentation and intelligence gathering. The experience Raven Aerostar has gained through its work with NASA will help us to continually push the envelope on what is possible with balloons.”

About Aerostar International, Inc: Aerostar International, a wholly owned subsidiary of Raven Industries, is a world leader in the design and manufacture of highly technical aerospace, surveillance technology and specialty sewn products. Aerostar and Raven are based in Sioux Falls, SD. Aerostar’s high-altitude scientific balloons have been manufactured at its dedicated facility in Sulphur Springs, TX for more than 30 years. The company has a rich history, saving lives through its unique product lines; in addition to scientific balloons, Aerostar’s engineers design and manufacture tethered aerostats and persistent surveillance solutions, protective wear, parachutes, marine navigation equipment and specialty electronics. Aerostar is committed to providing its customers with the innovative solutions that they require and the answers that they can trust.

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 resource preservation. 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 electronic manufacturing services markets. Visit www.RavenInd.com for more information.

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Contact Information:
Mike Smith
Aerostar International, Inc.
Ph: 605-331-3500, Fax: 605-331-3520
Email: AEROsales@ravenind.com


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