Thunderhead Balloons Go On World Tour


Thunderhead Balloons Go on World Tour

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (March 7, 2023) – Aerostar's long-duration high-altitude Thunderhead balloons are exploring new frontiers, flying across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans to validate extended endurance and navigation capabilities. With over five hundred Thunderhead flights, Aerostar has demonstrated a proven capability for precise global navigation and flight duration topping 150 days. Thunderhead systems provide quickly deployed, long-lived communication links in civilian or defense applications, as well as observation platforms for scientific, environmental, or defense related sensing and signal collection. “The proven reliability and endurance of Thunderhead Balloons are enabled by Aerostar’s advanced balloon design and manufactured techniques developed since the company’s founding in 1956,” according to Jim Nelson, Aerostar President.

60 Days in the Gulf of Guinea

Aerostar Flight HBAL614, currently station seeking off the coast of Africa, recently surpassed 85 days of flight. Launched from New Mexico on December 11th, 2022, Aerostar flight HBAL614 arrived near the Gulf of Guinea more than two months ago and remains healthy and on station. All Aerostar flights are conducted in close coordination with local air traffic control authorities.

To Hawaii and Back

Another recent flight, Aerostar Flight HBAL574, was launched on December 9th, 2021, and traveled 48,000 mi across the Pacific and back, visiting the Galápagos Islands and Hawaii before returning to Texas for system recovery 156 days later.

Longer and Longer Aerostar continues to invest in the technology behind Thunderhead balloon system, improving the ability to navigate to precise, pre-designated locations and maintain a persistent presence for an extended period. Aerostar operates hundreds of flights per year, Aerostar balloons have more than 2,000,000 hours of stratospheric flight experience.

"Aerostar has developed the Thunderstorm Mission Planning and Control System to operate balloons at global scale. Using machine learning to fuse historical flight data, current weather observations and multiple forecast models, the Thunderstorm system enables both mission planning and flight control to meet mission objectives,” according to Russ Van Der Werff, Aerostar Vice President of Stratospheric Solutions.

About Aerostar With more than 65 years of lighter-than-air innovation and expertise, Aerostar is dedicated to connecting, protecting, and saving lives. Headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Aerostar provides world-leading solutions in the aerospace and defense market, focused on stratospheric balloon systems and radar solutions. Learn more at