How high do
weather balloons fly?

How high can
weather balloons go?

How high does a high altitude balloon go? What is the maximum altitude weather balloons fly? First of all it is important to understand, why weather balloons, stratospheric balloons, high altitude weather balloons or meteorological weather balloons fly to the upper atmosphere!

Good to know: weather balloons, also called high altitude balloons, meteorological balloons, stratospheric balloons or sounding balloons are just different terms, it’s all the same, just another naming.

High altitude balloons are mostly filled with helium or balloon gas, sometimes with hydrogen. Helium and even hydrogen is much lighter than our surrounding oxygen. Helium is the second lightest element in our universe, but four times lighter than Helium is just hydrogen.

With it’s helium filling the high altitude balloon rises up. On the ground, f. e. at sea level, the surrounding pressure is 1 bar / 1,000 hPa. The weather balloon ascends and the surrounding pressure gets lower and lower and the helium inside and also the flexible material of the high altitude balloon expands. So far so good, but: How high can high altitude balloons fly? This depends on three factors: The positive ascend speed, more precisely the amount of helium or hydrogen and second the size of your high altitude balloon and the mass of attached payload!

Ascend speed: The amount of gas with the high altitude weather balloon is filled, more precisely the ascend speed which is used, because as less ascend speed as possible that the weather balloon goes up is preferred to reach it’s maximum altitude. Because the helium/ hydrogen needs as much space inside the weather balloon to expand. So the challenge to reach the maximum height with a weather balloon is just to reach a positive ascend, f. e. 1 meter per second. Of course, it takes time to reach maximum altitude of more than 40,000 meters or 131.000 feet, but this is how it works.

Minimal payload: Mostly you just not only launch a high altitude balloon and this it is, so to nearly every weather balloon a payload is attached. This could be a small polystyrene probe with a camera in it, to send you camera into space or send experiments for your school project or STEM project to the edge of space. The challenge is that the weight of your payload must be as low as possible. Every gram of weight requires additional helium, balloon gas or hydrogen, so this means that you need to fill more helium into your weather balloon. Each additional liter of helium reduces the flight altitude, because the high altitude balloon will burst sooner.

Size of your high altitude weather balloon: to reach the maximum height we now know just to use as less helium or hydrogen as need for just even to get a positive lift of the weather balloon. As much space inside the weather balloon the gas has, it better it is. The surface of the weather balloon or high altitude balloon is made out of natural rubber and latex, so it is really flexible. The largest worldwide weather balloon which is produced in larger quantities is the Weather Balloon 3000. This high altitude balloon is produces for maximum heights of more than 40,000 meters, 24.8 miles, 131,000 feet!

Sum it up: If you keep your payload to a minimum and choose a low ascent rate and use the Weather Balloon 3000, you will reach altitudes of over 131,000 feet without any problems. That's a promise!

You want to sent your
own camera into space?

To launch your camera and experiments into space Stratoflights provides all necessary information you need for a successful flight to the edge of space with your high altitude balloon. Next to a free Tutorial with all information, videos for each topic we also provides free tools for calculating the amount of helium with the helium calculator, or provide a free tool to predict the flight path to get a first impression of the landing area one day before the launch.

Stratoflights also provides all equipment you need for a successful mission into space, not just only the Weather Balloon 3000, we also provides Weather Balloon Kits and comprehensive Weather Balloon Manuals and Datalogger to log a lot of information about your flight. Nearly all of the equipment is designed and produced from the Engineers of Stratoflights and well fitted to the requirements of the stratosphere. Checkout our Tutorial:

High altitude balloons
for your mission!

You want to buy a meteorological balloon? You need only one weather balloon or stratospheric balloon for your school project or whole batches of meteorological weather balloons for your research project or you are a weather service and want to collect data with radiosondes? You want to send a payload on a high altitude balloon up to 40 kilometers (24.9 ft) (131,233 ft) into the stratosphere?

Stratoflights is your partner if you are looking for meteorological weather balloons of the highest quality!

Highest quality: all weather balloons are subject to strict quality standards and undergo visual and machine density testing, ensuring that every single meteorological balloon meets 100% of the highest qualitative standards.

One balloon, many names: weather balloons are also called meteorological weather balloons, meteorological balloons, high altitude balloons or sounding balloons and also stratospheric balloon.

Worldwide shipping with DHL and DHL Express: Worldwide, we have been supplying private individuals, schools, civil and military research institutions with weather balloons for climate and atmospheric research for many years.

FAQ: You have the questions,
we have the answers.

What does a weather balloon cost?

The price of a weather balloon depends on your goal: How high do you want your weather balloon to fly and or how much payload do you want the weather balloon to carry? Weather balloons are available in different sizes and thus costs vary. Prices for all models of our high quality meteorological balloons can be found in our shop.

What is the delivery time of weather balloons?

We hand over all orders to DHL or DHL Express from our warehouse in Germany on the next business day. The exact delivery time depends on whether the delivery is to be made within or outside the EU. One thing is clear: With our logistics partners DHL and DHL Express we enable a maximum of delivery speed. Faster is not possible.

Why does a weather balloon burst?

Weather balloons can reach altitudes of up to 40,000 meters (131,233 ft). That's three times higher than commercial aircraft fly. As altitude increases, the ambient atmospheric pressure decreases. The further we move away from sea level in altitude, where the atmospheric pressure is exactly 1 bar or 1,000 hPa, the air pressure decreases noticeably. When climbing mountains, for example, breathing becomes difficult quite quickly. At an altitude of just under 5 kilometers (3.1 mi) (16,404 ft), the atmospheric air pressure has already halved. The helium or balloon gas, which provides buoyancy for the weather balloon, expands as the atmospheric pressure continues to decrease, and so does the weather balloon. Thus, weather balloons can become up to 15 meters in diameter due to their elastic natural rubber-latex mixture, before you then burst at minimum air pressure.

What is a weather balloon filled with?

In most cases, weather balloons are filled with helium or the less expensive balloon gas, which consists of about 95% helium. Weather services and research facilities occasionally also use hydrogen, as this has an even lower density and allows for even more buoyancy.

How to fill a weather balloon?

To fill a weather balloon with helium/ balloon gas, you need helium/ balloon gas, which is available in gas bottles. To fill the helium/ balloon gas from the bottles in the previously calculated amount with the Helium Calculator into the weather balloon, a Pressure Reducer is needed. With this you can fill the exact calculated amount from the gas bottles via the hose of the Pressure Reducer into the weather balloon.

What is a weather balloon made of?

A weather balloon or meteorological weather balloon consists, among other things, of a natural rubber-latex mixture, so that the weather balloon can expand to many times its volume with increasing altitude.

Are you allowed to launch a weather balloon?

You are allowed to launch a weather balloon if you have obtained the required ascent permit in your country for the ascent and if you have obtained the ascent permit for the operation of your weather balloon and if you meet the required conditions, if any. Thus, a weather balloon may be launched by anyone, whether a research institution, business, school or private individual. Here you can find a listing of aviation authorities of different countries.

Where does a weather balloon launch have to be registered?

In most cases, the ascent of weather balloons is applied for at the respective aviation authorities or traffic authorities of the respective country. We have compiled a few countries and their aviation authorities here.

Is it allowed to launch a weather balloon as a private person?

Yes, as long as you apply for the ascent permit in your country and comply with any conditions required for the ascent, so basically anyone may launch a weather balloon, whether a private person, school, company or research institution, who has obtained the required ascent permit.

Can you print on weather balloons? Is it possible to print a logo on weather balloons?

In order to print a logo on the sensitive and very thin layer of the weather balloon, the already very thin surface must be roughened so that the color of the logo adheres to the weather balloon. The roughening creates a predetermined breaking point, since the weather balloon expands due to the ever decreasing ambient pressure during the ascent and will burst at the printed area already at a very low altitude. In this respect, printing the weather balloon is not possible or sensible.

Is there a difference between weather balloon, meteorological weather balloon, high altitude balloon (HAB), sounding balloon and stratospheric balloon?

No. Since weather balloons usually fly in the so-called stratosphere, this atmospheric layer starts from 15 kilometers altitude (9.3 mi) (49,212 ft), weather balloons are also sometimes called stratospheric balloons, meteorological weather balloons, meteorological balloons, high altitude balloons and sounding balloons.

What are weather balloons and meteorological weather balloons used for?

Weather balloons, stratospheric balloons, high altitude balloons (HAB), sounding balloons or also known as meteorological weather balloons, have numerous applications: Weather balloons are mainly used by weather services, universities for atmospheric altitude research and weather forecasting. Furthermore, weather balloons are used by schools for school projects to launch small cameras and measuring instruments as part of school project weeks. Private individuals use weather balloons, for example, to make their own video recordings from the edge of space. Weather balloons are also used near the ground to lift amateur radio payloads such as weather probes and to transmit via APRS. Weather balloons are fixed by amateur radio operators e.g. also in 40 m height and antennas are fixed to them. Furthermore, weather balloons are used for height marking work, e.g. to mark a later wind turbine and to measure the actual wind strength over a longer period of time, e.g. at a height of 150 meters.

How high can a weather balloon fly?

Weather balloons are available in different sizes and therefore fly to different altitudes. The largest weather balloon available for maximum altitude is the Weather Balloon 3000. The Weather Balloon 3000 can reach altitudes of up to 40 altitude kilometers (24.9 ft) (131,233 ft), which is three times higher than commercial airliners fly.

How far can a weather balloon expand?

The world's largest weather balloon available is the Weather Balloon 3000, which can expand up to 14 meters (45.9 ft) in diameter at an altitude of 40 kilometers (24.9 mi) (131,233 ft)!

How do I fill a weather balloon?

In order to fill a weather balloon with the amount previously calculated with the Helium Calculator for your mission, the helium/ balloon gas from the gas bottle must be filled into the weather balloon in the correct amount. To take the right amount from the gas bottle, we need a Pressure Reducer, which is connected to the gas bottle. This allows you to precisely control the amount of gas that is filled into the weather balloon. A hose leads from the pressure reducer into the weather balloon, so that the helium/ balloon gas from the gas bottle can flow through the hose of the pressure reducer into the weather balloon.

How long does it take to fill a weather balloon?

This depends on the size of the weather balloon and the required amount of helium/ balloon gas. For small weather balloons, the filling process takes a few minutes, for large weather balloons such as the Weather Balloon 2000, the filling process should take about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the adjusted flow rate.

What is the storage time of a weather balloon? How long can I store a weather balloon?

Provided the weather balloon has been stored dry at room temperature and sealed from direct sunlight in its original packaging, Stratoflights' high-quality weather balloons can be stored for up to 2 years without loss of quality.

How much lifting capacity does a weather balloon have?

The load capacity depends on the size of the weather balloon. The load capacity consists of the dead weight of the weather balloon and the payload, which is attached to the weather balloon. The Weather Balloon 2000 has a dead weight of 2,000 g (70.5 oz) and can carry a payload of 2,000 g (70.5 oz) and thus the carrying capacity is 4,000 g (141 oz).

How much weight can be attached to a weather balloon?

How much weight or payload can be attached to a weather balloon depends on the model of the weather balloon. For example, the Weather Balloon 2000 can carry a payload of 2,000 g (70.5 oz).

What can you attach to the weather balloon?

The payload of a weather balloon can be various. Weather services let measuring instruments and radiosondes rise with parachutes on meteorological balloons, schools design their own small probes with cameras and measuring equipment, amateur radio operators fix antennas on weather balloons. Art objects are also fixed to weather balloons in galleries as part of special exhibitions. Road construction companies use weather balloons to measure temperature and humidity at heights where bridges will later be built. The possibilities are endless.

Where to buy the helium or balloon gas for weather balloons?

At the gas retailers in your region. These can be small local suppliers, but also large gas suppliers such as Air Liquide and Linde Gas. Larger hardware store chains also carry balloon gas in large gas tanks.

Where to buy a weather balloon? Weather balloon for sale?

High quality weather balloons or meteorological weather balloons or also called stratospheric balloons, you can buy at Stratoflights. We offer weather balloons of different sizes to fit your mission.

What is the difference between a weather balloon and stratospheric balloon, high altitude balloon (HAB) and sounding balloon?

Weather balloons are often called meteorological weather balloons, high altitude balloons (HAB), sounding balloons and also stratospheric balloons. However, these are just synonyms, so there is no difference.

What colors are weather balloons available in?

Weather balloons are only available in white.

Is it possible to predict the flight path of weather balloons?

Yes, this is possible, even relatively accurately. For this purpose, you can use our tool Predicting the flight path and predict the flight route to within a few kilometers the day before the launch.

How far does a weather balloon fly? Flight distance of a meteorological balloon?

That depends on many factors: First, on the altitude and ascent speed of the weather balloon and the wind speeds, as well as from which directions the wind blows, whether the wind direction changes at different altitudes, etc. On average, one can assume an average flight distance between take-off and landing point of a weather balloon with payload and parachute at a place altitude of about 36 altitude kilometers (22.3 mi) (118,110 ft) at an ascent speed of 5 meters per second of about 80 kilometers (50 mi) as the crow flies. In the summer months, the flight distance is often far below 80 kilometers (50 mi) as the crow flies. In winter, the flight distance increases and longer distances are possible.

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