The Thin Red Line USA proposed innovation enables NASA to conduct long duration atmospheric observations at both Venus and Titan with payloads >100kg with a new, low power, highly reliable, long life, lighter-than-atmosphere architecture that can be customized for multiple planetary missions with extensive non-recurring-engineering. The proposed balloon technology has immediate application in the exploration of atmospheric planets and moons. This technology improves upon the platform objectives of the Venus Climate Mission (VCM), one of five flagship missions called for by the National Research Council 2013 Decadal Survey. The VCM mission includes a gondola/balloon system with a 21 day life at a 55.5km altitude in 2021. Its objectives are to characterize the greenhouse atmosphere of Venus, its origin and evidence of climate change. This mission can be significantly enhanced by staying aloft for five or more years and navigate the planet utilizing altitude cycling. To meet a 2021 launch, preliminary design and technology completion for the VCM must occur in 2017-18 and can incorporate proposed innovation. The technology could also play a vital role in the Titan Saturn Mission which is expected to have a balloon-navigated sensor platform that operates in conjunction with an orbiter and lake-lander.
The Thin Red Line USA (TRL-USA) proposed innovation advances a technology with significant terrestrial applications. The robust TRL-USA multi-segment altitude control balloon can provide rapid mobility altitude cycling capability, long life, and recoverability to many systems currently using short-lived, difficult to recover balloons. These markets include weather balloons, remote sensing, and remote communication systems for commercial, civil, and military use, with flights numbering in the 10s of thousands per year. The TRL-USA balloon will improve capability, mission assurance, and reduce costs; making it a highly competitive option for these industries.