Spy balloons that fly 40km up track drug dealers on the ground

New Scientist

High-altitude balloons called Stratollites might soon be giving the US military and NASA permanent and relatively low-cost eyes in the sky wherever they want. Developed by US firm World View, Stratollites are uncrewed, hydrogen-filled balloons that tour the stratosphere at heights of between 10 and 46 kilometres. As the stratosphere is layered with winds blowing in different directions, a Stratollite's path The balloons are controlled remotely from the ground. World View has used dozens of flights to refine the computer models and algorithms used to navigate the balloons. Along the way, the company claims to have carried out the biggest controlled altitude-change manoeuvre ever by a balloon, switching nearly 8 kilometres in one sweep.


Spy balloons flying 40km up track drug smugglers on the ground

New Scientist

High-altitude balloons called Stratollites might soon be giving the US military and NASA permanent and relatively low-cost eyes in the sky wherever they want. Developed by US firm World View, Stratollites are uncrewed, hydrogen- or helium-filled balloons that tour the stratosphere at heights of between 10 and 46 kilometres. As the stratosphere is layered with winds blowing in different directions, a Stratollite's path The balloons are controlled remotely from the ground. World View has used dozens of flights to refine the computer models and algorithms used to navigate the balloons. Along the way, the company claims to have carried out the biggest controlled altitude-change manoeuvre ever by a balloon, switching nearly 8 kilometres in one sweep.


Jane Poynter wants to send you to the edge of space in a very big balloon

Popular Science

Nothing draws attention to your new product like using it to send fast food into space. In June, Arizona-based World View demonstrated the potential of its pioneering stratollite--a sort of mini satellite that uses a high-altitude balloon to take payloads into the stratosphere--by partnering with KFC to ferry a 5-ounce piece of fried fowl 77,000 feet into the desert sky. "We took a frail chicken sandwich, launched it into space for 17 hours, and when it came back, it was perfect," says World View CEO Jane Poynter.


Texas Border Patrol test camera-toting helium balloons

Daily Mail

The U.S. Border Patrol is considering another type of surveillance balloon that can be quickly moved to spot illegal activity, part of an effort to see if more eyes in the sky translate to fewer illegal crossings. Agents in Texas recently finished a 30-day trial of the camera-toting, helium-filled balloon made by Drone Aviation Holding Corp., a small startup that named former Border Patrol chief David Aguilar to its board of directors in January. The 3-year-old, money-losing company gave Aguilar options that may prove lucrative if it gets more orders for its proprietary model. The tethered balloon, called Winch Aerostat Small Platform, or WASP. The trial comes as agents test hand-launched drones, which are relatively inexpensive but hampered by short battery life and weight limits.


US military balloons that float on the edge of space have sensors that mean they NEVER move

Daily Mail - Science & tech

The US military is set to create balloons that could float in the stratosphere in exactly the same spot indefinitely. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) - which has started testing the balloons - believes they could be used as cheap alternatives to satellites. Applications could include communications with remote areas or disaster zones, as well as surveillance of other nations. The solar-powered craft are able to anchor themselves in place thanks to sensors that can predict changes in the direction of the wind and an on-board motor compensates for the movement. Military aircraft fly at a maximum of 65,000 feet (20,000m) while these balloons operate at up to 90,000 feet (27,000m) and would therefore be virtually impossible to intercept.