The NSC flight team is skilled at stratospheric balloon operations, including: mission planning and coordination, payload integration and check-out, inflation, launch, tracking, and recovery. Having conducted over 160 stratospheric balloon flights, the team has demonstrated the ability to meet demanding project schedules and requirements. With an integrated balloon facility, NSC is uniquely able to utilize the combined experience of its engineering, production, and flight operations personnel to support high altitude/near space missions. NSC uses a variety of launch techniques and balloon systems to provide test services for a wide range of payload masses and altitudes.
HASS integrates an innovative Tactical Balloon Launch System with a special high altitude unmanned Shuttle for payload recovery. NSC’s patent pending Tactical Balloon Launch System reduces logistical costs and provides an unprecedented level of launch flexibility and responsiveness. Launching conventional stratospheric balloons typically requires relatively calm winds, established launch sites, significant ground equipment, and a large support team. The Tactical Balloon Launch System allows balloon-borne payloads to be launched in winds of up to 30 kts, from undeveloped launch sites, with a team of only two to three. It enables better control over where and when a payload is launched, allowing the user to take advantage of transient opportunities and high impact events. Further, it eliminates the need to wait for the winds to be calm, which reduces standby time and greatly extends acceptable launch windows. The Tactical Balloon Launch System was primarily designed to lift the HASS Shuttle to altitudes up to 100,000 ft (~30 km), with up to 15 kg payloads. The Shuttle delivers payloads to predefined recovery locations autonomously, and enables ¬safe, rapid redeployment of sensitive and expensive equipment. The vehicle has been rigorously flight tested over the course of a five year development program. A standard, high-volume payload bay allows a variety of systems to be integrated quickly and seamlessly.
The SBS offers many of the advantages of HASS, but exchanges the tactical balloon launch system and gliding payload return vehicle for the simplicity of a traditional balloon platform and a parachute recovery system. Standard SBS flights can lift payloads of up to 10 kg to altitudes of 35 km for flights of up to six (6) hours. Non-standard options include larger payload masses, higher altitudes, longer flight durations, and remote launch sites. NSC’s SBS is approved for flights outside of a normal test range environment, with standard operations conducted out of NSC’s Tillamook Balloon Facility. The SBS is well suited for small satellite and spacecraft subsystem developers wanting to raise their Technology Readiness Level (TRL) and qualify their payload in a relevant environment.
The NBS is an ideal platform for cubesat developers seeking to test their prototype in a space-like, relevant environment. Standard flights can lift fully self-contained 1U cubesats (1 kg, 10 cm sided cube) to altitudes of 30 km for flights of up to six (6) hours. Several non-standard options are available, including a variety of custom thermal insulated housings to accommodate different payload shapes and volumes, the ability to send limited payload commands, and the ability to record data onboard. Standard flights are conducted out of NSC’s Tillamook Balloon Facility. Due to its small size and mass, the NBS can be operated under less restrictive regulations with increased operational flexibility. The NBS is well suited for payload providers seeking a quick and simple solution for operating small passive payloads in near space.