Budgeting for the Eclipse Ballooning Project

Budget: Below is a budget guideline to get you started. Note that some of these numbers will vary by time, location of team and variations of team projects/expectations.

Balloon/helium supplies: General ballooning supplies teams should be aware of.

  • Latex 2000g balloons (~$250/balloon)*. Kaymont Balloons are recommended.
  • Parachute ($50-$100)**
  • Regulator for helium tank ($40-$250)**
  • Balloon Filling Equipment: Tubing from regulator to balloon filling ‘adapter,’ hose clamps, filling adapter (for example, a PVC pipe that attaches the balloon filling opening to the tubing from regulator), etc. ($30)**
  • Helium (~$300/flight) *NOTE* Helium prices vary greatly (and have been on the rise) and there are rental fees for tanks to consider.
  • Rigging: string/rope, carabiners, ballooning tape (duct tape for example), etc. ($50)
  • Cloth gloves for handling balloon ($20)
  • Tools: Determining balloon lift, a bucket with weights for example ($30)
  • Tools: wrench for regulator, screw drivers, box cutters, etc. ($50)

*Each Space Grant supported team will receive two 2000g Kaymont balloons. We have practice balloons (balloons that have technically expired but should be fine for test or tethered flights) which can be shipped, at the expense of the team, to teams who are interested. Currently 1000g, 1200g, 1500g and 3000g balloons are available.

** We are working on providing basic balloon filling equipment to Space Grant Supported teams. More on this soon!

General Expenses: Expenses teams should include for eclipse flight and practice flights.

  • Iridium Airtime Data Fee ~ $13/month plus data usage
  • Hot Spot Device: Internet availability is required for tracking and video upload ($30-$50 w/ 2 year contract or retail is $150-$200). *NOTE* Some cellular plans include the ability to use your cellular phone as a mobile hot spot
    • Hot Spot Plan Fees (~$60/month for 4GB)
    • *NOTE* A Hot Spot may work great for practice flights and the dry run, but do not rely on a Hot Spot during the eclipse flight. With the large congregation of people the cell networks may be overwhelmed.
  • Secondary payload supplies
  • Travel for the eclipse day(s) and practice flights
  • Student support

Miscellaneous: Other recommended additions teams may want to consider.

  • SPOT Tracker: The SPOT Tracker is a great backup to the Iridium system for payload recovery. Note that the SPOT tracker must be pointed ‘face up’ in order for it to communicate with GPS satellites. ($170)
  • SPOT Tracker subscription ($100/year or $9.99/month)

It is possible to collaborate with different states or different ballooning teams within your state, although funds from a specific state’s Space Grant must go to teams and students residing in that state. It is also worth pursuing your home institution in support of your endeavors as well.

Updated 8/2/2016