A pair of balloons launched today (Thursday, March 23) from Hawaiʻi Island. According to a statement by Sierra-Nevada Corporation (SNC) and World View, the balloons “will travel approximately 4,000 nautical miles (nm), perform station-keeping demonstrations, and will safely land within the United States. The purpose of the flight is to explore how to effectively operate in the stratosphere using high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air systems.”
What if the balloons deflate? According to the Sierra-Nevada Corporation, “The HAB is constructed of Linear Low-Density Polyethylene, an extremely strong and lightweight blended plastic material that–even if punctured–will not immediately deflate. This provides time to navigate the balloon to a safe area for recovery. Due to materials used in construction and the minimal supplies required to launch a balloon, incidences or other failures surrounding launch are generally rare.”
How about concerns of spying on American citizens? More from SNC: “This demonstration flight will be equipped with a basic communications payload. Any information gathered is used for mission-specific purposes only and can never be given or sold for other uses.”
Based upon how much you trust these types of operations, your mileage may vary.