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K-12 Ballooning

Near-Space Balloon Challenge

The NSBC is an engaging launch challenge for middle and high school students in North Dakota. The NSBC is supported by the NASA North Dakota Space Grant Consortium (NDSGC), a state-wide educational program that involves North Dakota faculty, students, and K‐12 students in multi‐institution, collaborative, NASA‐relevant research.

College Ballooning


The Atmospheric and Educational Student Initiated Research (AESIR) is the science, launch, and recovery team from the Space Studies Department at the University of North Dakota. The AESIR team oversees all K-12 and college-level ballooning missions.


The North Dakota Space Grant Consortium (NDSGC) is a NASA grant that involves North Dakota's higher education and K‐12 schools in multi‐institutional, collaborative, NASA‐relevant research and education projects.

One of these educational projects is the Near-Space Balloon Competition (NSBC). Established in 2011, this program reinforces the engineering design process for middle and high school students. The NSBC follows the NASA Project Life Cycle methodology, consisting of proposals, design reviews, and payload construction. The NSBC brings students out in the field, experiencing a real-world balloon launch and chase. After retrieving payloads, students analyze their data and submit their conclusions in a final report. All participating NSBC teams will be reimbursed up to $250 for payload materials, as well as receiving transportation, lodging, and per diem reimbursements.

The NDSGC also conducts college-level high altitude ballooning. The Atmospheric and Educational Student Initiated Research (AESIR) college team conducts educational balloon launches every year. Reaching out across the state of North Dakota, AESIR's mission is to encourage all students to learn STEM in a fun, hands-on way. AESIR has participated in the High Altitude Student Platform (HASP) missions, a national zero-pressure balloon launch. 

A recent and exciting ballooning endeavor was the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. Along with over 50 NASA ballooning teams, the NDSGC contributed to this campaign, capturing live video of the moon's shadow upon the Earth's surface... from the stratosphere! The AESIR ballooning team traveled to Rexburg, ID (right on the path of totality), launched their high altitude balloon to 80,000 feet, and captured amazing footage of the entire eclipse. 

To learn more about NDSGC or the educational ballooning programs, please visit the "contact us" tab.

Analyze the near-space environment! 
Reach 100,000 feet in altitude, rise above 99% of the atmosphere, and see the curvature of the Earth!

All experience levels are welcome



NASA North Dakota Space Grant Consortium

University of North Dakota

4149 University Ave Stop #9008 

Clifford 513, Space Studies Department

Grand Forks, ND 58202

Tel: 701-777-4161

Please note: this form is not to be used to apply for the 2018 competition. Please visit "submitting documents" to apply.

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