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First scientific balloon flight kicks off campaign in Fort Sumner | NASA News

Photo Credit: NASA/Andy Hynous

NASA’s Scientific Balloon Program’s first scientific balloon of the fall campaign took flight Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, at the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Fort Sumner, New Mexico with the successful launch and recovery of the Salter Test Flight.

Among the numerous missions aboard the hardware test flight were more than 100 experiments from the Cubes in Space program. In partnership with NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, this program offers students aged 11 to 18 the opportunity to access a near-space environment to design and test experiments or technologies that connect to a real-world Earth or space-based problem or need.

The Formulate, Lift, Observe, And Testing; Data Recovery And Guided Onboard Node Balloon Challenge (FLOATing DRAGON), developed by teams of undergraduate and graduate students, was also onboard to test a guided data vault recovery system. While the FLOATing DRAGON drops were not released as intended, the payload will assist in the development of technology for future NASA missions.

A total of eight flights are planned from the agency’s balloon launch facility during the fall campaign, where football-stadium-sized balloons will fly scientific experiments and technology to near-space altitudes.

To follow the missions in the 2023 Fort Sumner fall campaign, visit NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility website for real-time updates of a balloon’s altitude and GPS location during flight.

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