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J. C. Warren
Balloon Launch
A balloon prepares to launch at the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Map of the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility. Courtesy of NASA. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Balloon Launch
The components of a balloon launch. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Scientific Balloon Facility
Aerial view of the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility, with the launch pad visible at the top. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

NATIONAL SCIENTIFIC BALLOON FACILITY. The National Scientific Balloon Facility occupies more than 400 acres on Farm Road 3224 just off U.S. Highway 287, five miles west of Palestine, Texas. It was established in 1961 in Boulder, Colorado, by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and was moved in 1963 to Palestine. It was the first permanent facility devoted exclusively to scientific ballooning. Since its inception there has been a continuing effort to expand the facility and make the unique qualities of balloons for scientific research more readily available to scientists. In addition to scientific experiments, many flights designed to contribute improvements to balloon technology have been made. The facility is open, within practical limits, to all scientists with balloon-borne experiments to fly. In many cases the facility has provided scientists with a variety of technical assistance and field services, thus sparing them the burden of becoming experts in balloon technology.

The balloon flight station has provided experienced private contractor personnel, under close National Center for Atmospheric Research supervision. In 1973 a new, larger launch area was built. The principal financial support for the facility came from the National Science Foundation until 1982, when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration took over that role and the balloon station came under the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. On October 1, 1987, NASA awarded the New Mexico State University Physical Science Laboratory the contract to operate the station. The facility has been responsible for over 1,700 balloon launches for thirty-five universities, thirty-three foreign groups, and twenty-three other research agencies. The National Scientific Balloon Facility continues in high-altitude research ballooning at Palestine and at several remote sites in the United States and other countries.


Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin (Palestine, Texas).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, J. C. Warren, "NATIONAL SCIENTIFIC BALLOON FACILITY," accessed July 02, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/yen01.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on June 8, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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