Orbital ATK helped send aloft a NASA scientific balloon after 5 p.m. Eastern time Thursday from Wanaka Airport in New Zealand.
The company won a contract in November 2014 to provide management, planning, engineering and field operations support for NASA’s super pressure balloon flight missions, Orbital ATK said Friday.
NASA aims to surpass the current SPB flight duration record of 54 days and demonstrate the aerostatic platform’s potential to float at 110,000 feet for up to 100 days.
“These long-duration balloon flights help provide critical scientific data, create new technologies and trigger new discoveries,“ said John Pullen, general manager of the technical services division at Orbital ATK’s space systems group.
The company said the balloon is made from polyethylene film and contains tracking and communication technology payloads for the flight test.
NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia administers the SPB program and a team of Orbital ATK mission specialists helps manage the initiative from the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Texas.