Kentucky Space has an active program exploring "near space" at altitudes of 100,000 feet or more using high altitude balloons.
Supported by the Kentucky National Guard and the Kentucky Department of Homeland Defense, it successfully launched Balloon-1 from the Bowling Green/Warren County Regional Airport to the edge of space in 2008.
On launch day, Balloon-1 was assembled, inflated and ascended at an average rate of 1,000 ft. per minute, reaching a maximum altitude of 91,277 ft. Shortly after achieving maximum altitude Balloon-1 burst as expected. The parachute system was deployed and the payload continued to operate until touchdown. The landing site was approximately 40 miles downrange of the launch site. The APRS transmitter continued to function after landing, leading the student chase team to the landing site. The payload was recovered and returned to the mission control center for data extraction and a debriefing.
The primary science payloads carried by Balloon-1 included a magnetometer, temperature sensor, and pressure sensor. These instruments recorded valuable data at the edge of space for attitude control and determination and will aid in the design of future Kentucky Space orbital satellites.
Kentucky Space is planning more flights for 2011, including one carrying aerogel to collect comet dust, and another to test autonomously controlled descent craft.