SSI is delighted to announce that we’ve won Best Design in the Global Space Balloon Challenge, an international high-altitude balloons challenge with more than 630 teams participating in 72 countries, using the design for our Project Cycloon system. The competition is designed to increase access to space and motivate people to take their first steps towards it with small-scale science payload launches, and rewards innovation and excellence in design.
The overarching aim of Project Cycloon is to leverage SSI’s expertise in balloon altitude control towards tropical cyclone research over the open ocean. Tropical cyclone energetics are of enormous interest to forecasters but remain poorly understood, in large part because detailed measurements on such energetics -- full dynamic wind and temperature profiles from surface level to the cloud tops -- are unattainable by current methods.
Project Cycloon has designed an aero-marine, low-cost balloon platform to obtain such profiles. We envision stationing dozens of such platforms in basins of development throughout a hurricane season and deploying them to systems of interest. Upon entry to a storm system, the platform will be carried along by the storms circulation, enabling passive data collection for the remainder of the platform’s lifetime, at a fraction of the cost of other survey systems.
The award-winning flight was launched at midnight from Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park in San Mateo, California. After completing its flight, it was last heard from southwest of Pont Buchon in San Luis Obispo Country, over 150 miles away from the deployment site. Having achieved this design goal through the competition, the Cycloon team is excited to continue to develop their technology so that it can start being deployed!