Test Flight of NASA Super Pressure Balloon to Validate Revolutionary
Mission Targets New Balloon Duration Record
DULLES, Va.Mar. 27, 2015--
ATK, Inc. (NYSE:OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense
technologies, today announced the successful launch of its first
scientific balloon flight as the operator of NASA s balloon program. The
company supported NASA s super pressure balloon (SPB) launch from New
Zealand, marking the first achievement for Orbital ATK in scientific
balloon operations since NASA awarded the contract in November 2014. The
contract is administered by the Goddard Space Flight Center s Wallops
Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia and managed from the
Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF) in Palestine, Texas. The
Columbia team has launched more than 1,700 scientific balloons from
seven countries in the past 35 years.
A NASA Super Pressure Balloon in the final moments leading up to launch from Wanaka, New Zealand. Photo Credit: NASA
Under NASA s direction, Orbital ATK s team of mission specialists from
CSBF launched the balloon from Wanaka Airport in New Zealand at 5:12
p.m. EDT on March 26. The team provided program management, mission
planning, engineering services and field operations for the launch.
Flight managers will now monitor the balloon s ability to achieve a
stable altitude of 110,000 feet with a suspended two-and-one-half-ton
payload for up to 100 days. The payload consists of tracking and
communication instruments that are needed for the test flight.
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 NASA/Orbital ATK team worked together seamlessly to
provide the right combination of scientific ballooning and technical
A key goal of the mission is to exceed the current SPB record of 54 days
in flight and demonstrate the ability to maintain a constant altitude
for extended durations. The balloons have the potential to stay afloat
for up to 100 days depending on favorable conditions. Filled with
helium, the pumpkin-shaped SPB is made from 22 acres of polyethylene
film and equipped to carry several tons of payloads. Since scientific
research using high-altitude balloons began over five decades ago, there
has been a dramatic increase in balloon size, payload mass and
The NASA scientific balloon program offers low-cost, near-space access
for payloads weighing up to 8,000 pounds that include science
experiments and flight support equipment. These payloads provide
critical scientific data in fields such as X-ray, ultra-violet, optical
and infrared astronomy. The SPB technology, under development at NASA
for the last 15 years, has the potential to revolutionize near-space
access, providing an inexpensive platform for long-duration research at
a stable altitude.
As the balloon travels around the Earth, it may be visible from the
ground, particularly at sunrise and sunset, to those who live in the
southern hemisphere s mid-latitudes, such as Argentina and South Africa.
Interested observers can track the progress of the flight and view a map
showing the balloon s real-time location at:
Orbital ATK will conduct balloon missions in the U.S. and around the
world with flight rates of approximately 15 per year.
About Orbital ATK
Orbital ATK is a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies.
The company designs, builds and delivers space, defense and aviation
systems for customers around the world, both as a prime contractor and
merchant supplier. Its main products include launch vehicles and related
propulsion systems; missile products, subsystems and defense
electronics; precision weapons, armament systems and ammunition;
satellites and associated space components and services; and advanced
aerospace structures. Headquartered in Dulles, Virginia, Orbital ATK
employs more than 12,000 people in 20 states across the U.S. and in
several international locations. For more information, visit www.orbitalatk.com.
Source: Orbital ATK, Inc.
Orbital ATK, Inc.
Vicki Cox, 703-406-5663
Systems Group Public Relations
Public and Investor Relations