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The Large Balloon Reflector (LBR)

The Future is Now: Innovative Advanced Concepts Selected for Continued Study

Dr Chris Walker's suborbital balloon project is one of five studies to advance to Phase 2 of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Program (NIAC). Phase 2 recipients can receive up to $500,000 for two years. Phase 2 also leads to a scale model, and can progress to full funding in later years. The full balloon would fly at 130,000 feet, most likely from Antarctica, and can be up for as long as 100 days. The building and flying of the balloon would cost $8 million, about 1% of the cost of a space mission, and recovered payloads can be refurbished and re-flown. The main proposed science is to observe the 557 GHz line of water (539 micrometers), a spectral region that is quite opaque from the ground. At altitude, this line is very narrow, and at certain times of the year, many Galactic sources are redshifted or blueshifted away from this terrestrial background. Water can thus be observed in the Milky Way and in extragalactic objects. See THIS LINK for the NASA press release.
Tom Beal's Aug 13 AZ Star article can be found HERE

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