High Altitude Balloon Descends over Southwestern Kansas on 10 May

A high altitude balloon carrying research instrumentation was observed by many residents of southwest Kansas as it descended this morning. The balloon was launched by the National Scientific Balloon Facility at Fort Sumner, New Mexico (NSBF)at 815 AM on 9 May and reached an altitude of 129,000 feet. NSBF runs the NASA High Altitude Balloon Program and is managed by the Physical Science Laboratory of New Mexico State University. The balloon that descended this morning reached the ground 17 nautical miles northwest (331 degrees) of the Liberal Airport at 958 AM. The purpose of the flight was to conduct a cosmic ray experiment for Marshall Spaceflight Center. The balloon was approximately 514 feet long and 492 feet high and contained 40 million cubic feet of helium when inflated. The payload weighed about 5300 pounds, including telemetry equipment and batteries.

    Most high altitude balloons released from NSBF are designed to remain aloft collecting data for 24 to 36 hours. According to NSBF, they typically run only two missions per year from Fort Sumner. High altitude balloons are used for scientific studies in the near space environment since they are relatively inexpensive compared to other methods of carrying instruments to that altitude. More information about the National Scientific Balloon Facility may be obtained at www.nsbf.nasa.gov/<p>

    The flight path of the balloon is depicted in the image below.<a href="/ddc/news/balloon.gif" target="_blank">Flight Path of High Altitude Balloon</a>

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