Oral Presentation Only

Terminal Velocity of High-Altitude Balloon Payloads: Experiment Versus Theory

  • Paul Seifert (Concordia College)
  • Gordon McIntosh (University of Minnesota, Morris)


The terminal velocity of a high-altitude balloon payload descending under a parachute can be calculated using the Prandtl expression for the drag force and knowing the force of gravity (weight) on the payload. A simple model of terminal velocity versus altitude has been developed, accounting for the changing density of the atmosphere during descent. This model will be compared to the actual terminal velocity of payloads launched by the University of Minnesota, Morris and ConHAB (Concordia College) balloon groups. We will also compare results between our two different parachute designs. The model and flight data will be used to develop an undergraduate laboratory activity illustrating differences between experimental real-world data and theoretically modeled data.

How to Cite:

Seifert, P. & McIntosh, G., (2011) “Terminal Velocity of High-Altitude Balloon Payloads: Experiment Versus Theory”, Academic High Altitude Conference 2011(1). doi: https://doi.org//ahac.8145



Published on
23 Jun 2011
Peer Reviewed