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Raven Industries supplies high-altitude balloon used in record-setting mission: Company’s technology carries Austrian Felix Baumgartner to highest manned balloon flight

Posted: Tuesday, Nov 6th, 2012

The Red Bull Stratos balloon used in the highest manned balloon flight by Feliz Baumgartner is shown being filled with helium prior to the launch. The specially-made balloon was manufactured by Raven Industries. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

SIOUX FALLS — Raven Industries, Inc., in response to numerous inquiries, confirmed that the high-altitude research balloons used by Austrian Felix Baumgartner in his recent record-setting Red Bull Stratos mission, were manufactured by Raven’s Aerostar Division.

The 30-million-cubic-foot helium balloon used by Baumgartner is 1/10 the thickness of a Ziploc bag, yet weighs more than 3,000 pounds. Stretched out it would cover about 40 acres. The zero-pressure balloon was manufactured from 0.8 mil high-strength polyethylene material.

Raven Industries was founded in 1956 based on the product line of scientific balloons. The company’s competitor at the time, Winzen Research, supported numerous manned science programs in the 1950s and 1960s, including Navy Project Strato-Lab, Air Force Project Manhigh and Project Excelsior. The latter two involved Col. Joe Kittinger, USAF (Retired), who was involved in science related to aeromedical effects and life support systems for space flight, as well as understanding the factors of survivability when ejecting from high-altitude aircraft. In August 1960, Kittinger jumped from 102,800 feet, performing a free-fall of 4 minutes 36 seconds and reaching a top speed of 614 mph.

Winzen’s balloon division merged with Raven’s balloon division in 1994. Raven has continued to develop and manufacture scientific balloons with ever greater capabilities in lift, flight duration and reliability for NASA, the Air Force Research Lab, as well as other agencies around the world.

“Raven would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Baumgartner, Col. Kittinger, and all of the Red Bull Stratos team and support members on a great accomplishment,” said Mark West, Raven’s chief technology officer. “Throughout our company’s 56-year history we have been dedicated to furthering the science of these amazing balloons. We understand the level of technology, dedication and effort that was needed to return man to the stratosphere in this program. And we are impressed with the professionalism and concern for safety displayed by the entire Stratos team. We applaud their success.”

For more information and photographs on the Red Bull Stratos Mission, visit redbullstratos.com.

For the complete article see the 11-04-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 11-04-2012 paper.

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