ST. LOUIS, Mo. – You may want to keep your eyes on the skies Thursday and Friday near St. Louis. A high-altitude balloon is traveling north into the region. It may be on a very long trip.
The balloon is identified as “HBAL593” and a flight tracker reports that it has recently been traveling north near the Mississippi River at St. Louis. This may not be the first time a balloon like this has been through the region. That is a very interesting science travel story.
A Twitter account specializing in weather balloons called StratoCat says, “Not a weather balloon but a long duration super pressure one called #Thunderhead, developed and operated by Raven Aerostar. It was launched from Baltic, South Dakota on May 3rd and is in flight since.”
It is not clear if the balloon near St. Louis is from Raven Aerostar. They launched a balloon that flew from South Dakota to Hawaii. It passed near St. Louis twice.
Raven Aerostar tweeted on March 14, “Our team members are piloting balloons to test the endurance and navigation of our flight systems. We launched them from S.D. and flew them to Hawaii using machine learning and wind currents. HBAL574 traveled 24100 nm over 95 days, and HBAL577, 12164 nm in 45 days.”
The company has recently been working with the US military and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The joint project is designed to, “strengthen bilateral interoperability, capabilities, trust, and cooperation built over decades of shared experiences.”
It is not clear what the balloon near St. Louis is monitoring. Observers on social media note that this balloon is going in a somewhat different direction. But, it still may be an interesting item to see from St. Louis. Don’t forget to look up.