High-altitude balloon

The BLAST high-altitude balloon just before launch on June 12, 2005

High-altitude balloons or stratostats are crewed or uncrewed balloons, usually filled with helium or hydrogen, that are released into the stratosphere, generally attaining between 18 and 37 km (11 and 23 mi; 59,000 and 121,000 ft) above sea level. In 2002, a balloon named BU60-1 reached a record altitude of 53.0 km (32.9 mi; 173,900 ft).[1]

The most common type of high-altitude balloons is weather balloons. Other purposes include use as a platform for experiments in the upper atmosphere. Modern balloons generally contain electronic equipment such as radio transmitters, cameras, or satellite navigation systems, such as GPS receivers.

These balloons are launched into what is termed "near space", defined as the area of Earth's atmosphere between the Armstrong limit (18–19 km (11–12 mi) above sea level), where pressure falls to the point that a human being cannot survive without a pressurised suit, and the Kármán line (100 km (62 mi) above sea level[2]), where astrodynamics must take over from aerodynamics in order to maintain flight.

Due to the low cost of GPS and communications equipment, high-altitude ballooning is a popular hobby, with organizations such as UKHAS assisting the development of payloads.[3][4]

An example image from a hobby high-altitude balloon launched by the Make Stuff Club from Kalamazoo College
A photo taken from a 1,500 g (3.3 lb) weather balloon at approximately 100,000 ft (19 mi; 30 km) above Oregon
A latex weather balloon bursting at about 29.5 km (18.3 mi; 97,000 ft)
  1. ^ "Research on Balloon to Float over 50km Altitude". Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, JAXA. Retrieved 2011-09-29.
  2. ^ Sanz Fernández de Córdoba, Dr. S. (2004-06-24). "The 100 km Boundary for Astronautics". Fédération aéronautique internationale. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  3. ^ "DIY balloon sent up 30km". Boing Boing. 26 October 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-08.
  4. ^ McDermott, Vincent (8 August 2011). "Space race for DIYers". National Post. Archived from the original on 2013-02-28. Retrieved 2011-12-28.

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