UA christens new research-balloon lab in Tucson | Tech Parks Arizona

UA christens new research-balloon lab in Tucson

University of Arizona space scientists have a new place to ready mission packages for high-altitude balloon flights, with the opening of the school’s Mission Integration Lab on Tucson’s south side.

On Monday, UA officials and supporters christened the 43-foot tall building at the UA Tech Park at The Bridges, which features a high bay to suspend balloon payloads.

The new facility will allow researchers and engineers to build and test hardware for balloon-borne astronomy experiments and missions.

Balloon-borne astronomy fills an important gap between ground-based observatories and space telescopes, allowing deployment of telescopes and other instruments to altitudes where they avoid much of the interference from Earth's atmosphere at a fraction of the cost of space missions.

The UA must expand its research infrastructure to maintain its ranking among the top schools in the nation for space sciences, said Jeff Kingsley, associate director of the UA’s Steward Observatory.

“The high-altitude balloon experiments are expanding our knowledge and understanding of star formation, life cycles of stars and interstellar media, and other specialized observations unable to be done with a ground-based telescope,” Kingsley told a crowd of about 150 attendees who huddled inside the lab for a ribbon-cutting to avoid the rain.

The lab building features a high-bay area covering 4,500 square feet of floor space, 40-foot-high doors and an overhead crane system with a capacity of 7 ½ tons.


"Seeds of Wonder," a mural by artist Jessica Gonzales, hangs over the 4,000-square-foot open bay area of the UA Mission Integration Lab at University of Arizona Tech Park at the Bridges in Tucson on Monday.

Rick Wiley, Arizona Daily Star


Read the full Arizona Daily Star Article by David Wichner

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