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Atmospheric Pressure to Altitude for High Altitude Ballooning

Atmospheric Pressure to Altitude for High Altitude Ballooning

We are frequently asked about how to convert between atmospheric pressure and altitude for high altitude balloon flights. Our Doongara balloon cut-down device has a pressure sensor that can be configured to cut a line at a specific pressure. But what if you have a specific altitude in mind? Is there a way to correlateRead more about Atmospheric Pressure to Altitude for High Altitude Ballooning[…]

Iridium Controlled High Altitude Balloon

Iridium Controlled High Altitude Balloon

In our quest towards making controlled ballooning more affordable and accessible, we have recently developed a way to allow our Doongara balloon cut-down device to be remotely triggered. During testing we have been using an Iridium satellite tracker to both track and remotely terminate high altitude balloon flights. Below is a brief overview of ourRead more about Iridium Controlled High Altitude Balloon[…]

Storm Balloon

Storm Balloon

Earlier this summer, Smith & Williamson flew a new variant of the Boomerang Balloon Flight Control System inside of two different thunderstorms in Colorado and Nebraska. Known as the “Storm Balloon,” this new research platform was launched just before and after two storms. It was steered into the weather systems by taking advantage of varyingRead more about Storm Balloon[…]

Tandem Ballooning with Doongara

Tandem Ballooning with Doongara

Earlier this year we developed a reusable non-pyrotechnic line cutter, Doongara, for use on traditional, latex balloon flight trains and tandem ballooning. By adding Doongara in a 2-balloon tandem flight train, we demonstrated advanced flight profiles that vastly increase a payload’s time at altitude. Depending on the amount of helium in the tandem configuration’s twoRead more about Tandem Ballooning with Doongara[…]

Boomerang Balloon Atmospheric Research in India

Boomerang Balloon Atmospheric Research in India

The Smith & Williamson Boomerang Balloon Flight Control System completed its second year of flights for the Balloon Asian Tropopause Aerosol Layer (BATAL) campaign. Lead by Jean-Paul Vernier of NASA’s Airborne Science Program, the BATAL research campaign includes researchers from India’s National Atmospheric Research Laboratory and the Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi. BATAL’s science goalRead more about Boomerang Balloon Atmospheric Research in India[…]

Level Flight with Latex Balloons

Level Flight with Latex Balloons

The Boomerang Balloon Altitude Control System at altitude, venting.Smith & Williamson currently offers the only commercially available altitude control system for level flight with latex balloons and has sold units to university and NASA researchers. For more about Boomerang: The Complete Small Balloon Flight Control System, see here.

History of Level Flight with Latex Balloons

Component parts of the Mastenbrook balloon control valve
Component parts of the Mastenbrook balloon control valve

The idea of venting helium from a latex balloon is not new. The earliest published examples that we are aware of were completed in the 1950-60’s (Laby, 1956 & Mastenbrook, 1966). Controls ranged from balloon size string-operated valves to more advanced elctro-mechanical valves. Uses for this technology at the time was to expose nuclear emulsion plates to cosmic radiation and to provide both ascent and descent stratospheric water vapor measurements. Read more about Level Flight with Latex Balloons

Boomerang Vent & Ballast Calculator

Boomerang Vent & Ballast Calculator

The Boomerang Vent & Ballast Calculator is a critical tool for operators of the 4th Generation Boomerang Balloon Flight System. Using launch site, target altitude, and flight system parameters, the calculator displays:

  1. The initial helium fill volume and corresponding weigh-off weight to achieve a desired ascent rate, typically about 5 m/s.
  2. The estimated total vent time at altitude necessary for the Boomerang Balloon Flight System to achieve neutral buoyancy.
  3. The new ascent rate and settling altitude after a ballast drop of specific duration, either during the ascent or after reaching float.

Boomerang Vent & Ballast Calculator

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