By John CummingsApril 7, 2008
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. Aca,!" A large tethered balloon, called an aerostat, could be seen over western Redstone Arsenal April 4-10 as part of a military and civilian experiment titled Flagship.
The aerostat, called a High Altitude Long Endurance Testbed, was part of a disaster response communication experiment titled Flagship at RedstoneAca,!a,,cs Test Area 3 on west Martin Road.
The aerostat was among many existing and emerging civil and military capabilities and technologies taking part in the experiment; which involved resources from the Army, state of Alabama, NASA, Alabama Air National Guard, first responders from the city of Huntsville and Redstone Arsenal, and the Civil Air Patrol.
The aerostat is a helium filled balloon 75 feet long and 25 feet in diameter that floated up to 3,000 feet above the test area. It is capable of lifting a payload of approximately 200 pounds of cameras and communications equipment, with power being supplied to the payload through the balloonAca,!a,,cs tether.
The purpose of the experiment is to show the utility of using a tethered aerostat, along with other civil and military resources to ensure continued communication during a disaster scenario where existing communications equipment is unusable.
The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command hosted this event to demonstrate SMDC/ARSTRAT related technology in a military support to civil authorities experiment.
The aerostat was provided by SkySentry LLC, from Colorado Springs, Colo., and was brought to Redstone specifically for this experiment.