A good flight is one
that begins some place
near a major road, so
chase crews can quickly
get ahead of the balloon
or at least keep up with it.
A good launch site also
has a landing area that has
good access to roads
while not ending up in
cities, mountains, forests,
nuclear power plants, and
Due to the
mountainous nature of
Idaho, we must deal with
mountains and poor road
access at each launch. So,
it’s not uncommon to
make half a dozen predictions before
each near space mission.
Here are some observations I’ve
made over the years. You might find
them useful for your near space
1. Launching balloons inside a
high pressure system normally results
in shorter flights. That’s because the
winds tend to be light and
disorganized. The balloon will often
backtrack during ascent.
2. Don’t launch a balloon when
the jet stream is overhead. The jet
stream is often a boundary between
a cold air mass to the north and a
warmer air mass to the south.
Balloons can experience wind speeds
in excess of 100 MPH while
ascending through the central core of
a jet stream.
So, wait until the jet stream has
shifted north or south before
3. An additional pound or two of
extra buoyancy increases
the ascent rate
significantly, resulting in a
shorter flight. It does not,
however, change the
maximum altitude of the
The maximum altitude
doesn’t change much
because there’s already a
large volume inside the
balloon. So, adding
enough gas for an extra
pound of buoyancy will
increase the initial fill of
gas by only about 5%.
Try out the HabHub
webpage. You’ll have fun seeing how
changing some of the parameters can
make a big change in the balloon’s
If you’re in the process of starting
your own near space flights, then it’s
very important you become familiar
with this webpage.
In fact, it’s critical that a near
space flight be preceded with a flight
prediction in order to make the flight
as safe as possible.
Onwards and Upwards,
Your near space guide NV
A Google Earth image of a near space flight; this one
traveled from west to east (left to right in the image).
Notice that the slower ascent portion covers nearly twice
as much ground as the faster descent portion.
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PICBASIC PRO is a trademark of Microchip Technology Inc. in the USA and other countries.
PIC is a registered trademark of Microchip Technology Inc. in the USA and other countries. Available now at melabs.com contact us at email@example.com
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16 August 2017