Five Successful Launches Achieved In Antarctica
All Balloons Airborne For Six Days Marking New Flight Record
DULLES, Va.Dec. 19, 2016--
Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense
technologies, today announced a record total of five successful
scientific balloon flight launches at this year s NASA Antarctica Long
Duration Balloon Flight Campaign. The launches occurred in Antarctica
from November 28 through December 12. All five balloons remained
airborne for six days through December 18 marking a new flight record
for NASA s scientific balloon team. The program is administered by the
Goddard Space Flight Center s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island,
Virginia and operated from the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility
(CSBF) in Palestine, Texas. Orbital ATK manages NASA s Columbia
Scientific Balloon Facility and provides mission planning, engineering
services, and field operations under NASA s Balloon Operations Contract.
The Columbia team has launched more than 1,700 scientific balloons from
seven countries in the past 35 years.
The Boron and Carbon Cosmic rays in the Upper Stratosphere (BACCUS) payload launched on November 28, one of five balloon flights in this year's Antarctic Long Duration Balloon campaign. CREDIT: NASA
Our experienced and dedicated team is proud to support NASA in this
record breaking achievement, said John Pullen, Vice President and
General Manager, Technical Services Division of Orbital ATK s Space
Systems Group. Five successful balloon launches in the span of two
weeks is an incredible accomplishment and demonstrates a steadfast
commitment to providing unmatched reliability and performance on each
mission for our customer. We congratulate NASA for this historic
campaign which will help maintain the Wallops Flight Facility s position
as the world leader in scientific ballooning operations.
The five payloads took flight from a balloon launch site on Antarctica s
Ross Ice Shelf near McMurdo Station with support from the National
Science Foundation s United States Antarctic Program. The payloads and
instruments will provide critical scientific data in the study of cosmic
ray particles and the life cycle of the interstellar medium, which is
the matter that fills the space between stars in the galaxy.
NASA used its largest zero pressure balloon for the first three flights,
which at 40-million-cubic-feet of volume is as large as a football
stadium when fully inflated. On average, a NASA Antarctic mission can
achieve around 20 days of flight.
The first flight took place on November 28 with the launch of the
University of Maryland s Boron and Carbon Cosmic rays in the Upper
Stratosphere (BACCUS) experiment. BACCUS will investigate the density
and the chemicals in the environment between stars by studying cosmic
ray particles. It has completed two circumnavigations and is currently
on a third leg around the South Pole. The second flight known as the
Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) from the University of
Hawaii launched on December 2. ANITA has completed one circumnavigation
and was more than halfway through a second circumnavigation as of
December 19. Scientists will use ANITA s instruments to study the
reactions in the core of stars and as they explode via the release of
high energy particles known as neutrinos that travel to Earth and
interact with the Antarctica ice.
A third balloon, carrying the Stratospheric Terahertz Observatory
(STO-II) from the University of Arizona, launched on December 8 and is
currently three quarters through its first circumnavigation. The
instrument is designed to study the interstellar medium in order to
better understand the life cycle of stars.
Finally, two smaller hand-launched balloons deployed on December 11 and
12, carrying the High Altitude Radio Frequency Surface Reflectivity
Calibration (ANITA Hi-Cal) #1 and #2 payloads from the University of
Kansas. As they track the ANITA flight path, the Hi-Cal flights measure
the reflectivity of the ice by emitting a signal from a suspended radio
frequency transmitter. The Hi-Cal #2 flight ended on December 18 after
completing one-half of a circumnavigation.
Interested observers can track the progress of NASA s Antarctica
scientific balloon flights via online tools that provide altitude and
speed as well as a map showing the balloon s real-time location at: https://www.csbf.nasa.gov/antarctica/ice.htm.
NASA s scientific balloons offer low-cost, near-space access for
payloads weighing up to 8,000 pounds to conduct technology demonstration
tests as well as scientific investigations in fields such as
astrophysics, heliophysics, and atmospheric research. Depending on the
goals and objectives of a specific mission, balloon flight durations can
run hours to multiple days or weeks for longer-term exposures and data
collection. The program averages 10-15 flights each year from launch
sites worldwide. This year, the NASA/Orbital ATK team recorded 12
successful balloon launches.
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 approximately 12,000 people in 18 states across the U.S. and in
several international locations. For more information, visit www.orbitalatk.com.
Source: Orbital ATK
Vicki Cox, 410-409-8723
Systems Group Public Relations
Barron Beneski, 703-406-5528
Public and Investor