What is NSBC?

The Near-Space Balloon Competition (NSBC) is an engaging Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 9.47.09 AMbstudent launch competition for middle and high school students in North Dakota. Teams of 3-20 students may submit a proposal to balloons@ndspacegrant.org. The NSBC is funded by the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium (NDSGC), a state-wide NASA education program that involves North Dakota faculty, students, and K‐12 teachers and students in multi‐institution, collaborative, NASA‐relevant research.

NDSGC’s activities will demonstrably increase the qualified STEM and technical workforce that is necessary to accomplish NASA’s goals while also contributing to the general education and welfare of the North Dakota populace.


Hey Educators!

Kids BallooningThe NSBC is a unique science and engineering program that integrates hands-on learning into your curriculum. Students are able to complete the engineering design process with an exciting and unique launch mission. Your students will begin with a hypothesis, create a payload design, construct their experiment, launch it to nearly 100,000 feet above sea level, and finally, enhance their analysis and reporting skills. The NDSGC sponsors all qualifying teams with travel and lodging expenses in addition to a $250.00 payload allowance (Please see FAQ). This entire competition comes at no cost to your school. We assist and encourage all teachers to get involved, regardless of prior ballooning experience. 


Hey Students!

IMG_8503By participating in NSBC, you will be able to tell your family and friends that you have designed, built, and launched a scientific experiment on a high altitude balloon. When your experiment is floating at 100,000 feet, it will be in the stratosphere, the layer above the troposphere. At this altitude, called the near-space environment, your payload will reside above 99% of Earth’s atmosphere. Your experiment will TOUCH SPACE! If you look at images or videos taken from this altitude, you will see the curvature of the Earth, the thin blue atmosphere line, and the darkness of space! It’s important to study this area of our atmosphere because it’s too high for planes, yet too low for satellites.



The Ballooning Team at NDSGC:

The North Dakota Space Grant Consortium IMG_8511(NDSGC) has highly experienced launch and recovery teams, dedicated to monitor and retrieve your payload. For the NSBC, we launch two 1500-gram latex balloons, filling them with helium. The tracking teams are in constant communication with the balloons, using HAM radios, Iridium satellite trackers, and GPS units. Our teams follow the US Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) Part 101, which are rules laid out by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) governing usage of balloons.

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