GUSTO Breaks NASA Scientific Balloon Record for Days in Flight


February 26, 2024

Fifty-five days, one hour, and 34 minutes was the NASA record to beat, and the GUSTO (Galactic/Extragalactic ULDB Spectroscopic Terahertz Observatory) scientific balloon mission did just that Saturday, Feb. 24, while flying high above the icy surface of Antarctica. GUSTO is now the new record-holder for longest flight of any NASA heavy-lift, long-duration scientific balloon mission.

NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia manages the agency’s scientific balloon flight program with 10 to 15 flights each year from launch sites worldwide. Peraton operates NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF) in Texas, which provides mission planning, engineering services, and field operations for NASA’s scientific balloon program. The CSBF team has launched more than 1,700 scientific balloons over some 40 years of operations.

“This has been one of the more challenging and rewarding campaigns I’ve been a part of during my nearly 20 years of working in Antarctica,” said Peraton’s Antarctic campaign manager. “The success and record duration of the Explorer’s Class GUSTO mission, in addition to breaking the NASA Balloon Program’s altitude record with the AESOP-Lite missions, make it all worthwhile. It was a team effort, and I relied heavily on the expertise of my Peraton colleagues both on-site and remotely.”

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