Tucson, Arizona-based space exploration company World View has carried a Southwest Research Institute-developed solar observatory aboard the former company’s high-altitude balloon into the stratosphere as part of a NASA-funded Flight Opportunities program test.
NASA said Friday World View’s Stratollite balloon has lifted the SwRI Solar Instrument Pointing Platform to an altitude of 103,000 feet from Arizona’s Benson Municipal Airport to help conduct research with optical precision.
“Using a standard optical table platform increases flexibility, allowing scientists to try new things and develop new technologies without designing a custom observatory,” Craig DeForest, SwRI principal scientist.
“SSIPP could support the development of a range of new instruments for the near-space environment,” he added.
NASA noted that future applications will include the collection of solar data through infrared, ultraviolet or visible light near the edge of space at an altitude of approximately 20 miles above the Earth’s surface wherein the observatory can mitigate image distortions.
The agency’s space technology mission directorate selects industry, academia and government technologies that will be tested on commercial launch vehicles through the STMD-funded Flight Opportunities program.