Review Article

Computational Fluid Dynamics Study of Balloon System Tethered to a Stratosail

  • Jayakanth Loganathan (National University of Singapore)
  • Kian-Meng Lim (National University of Singapore)
  • Heow Pueh Lee (National University of Singapore)
  • Boo Cheong Khoo (National University of Singapore)


In this paper, we present a numerical study of a stratospheric balloon system tethered to a passive device, known as the Stratosail, for station-keeping operation. For scientific applications, stratospheric balloons that operate at altitudes between 15 and 20 km will need to maintain station over a fixed point above the earth for a prescribed period of time. This is a challenging problem due to the limitation of payloads and lack of an energy source. The present study uses computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations to analyze the drift velocity of such a balloon-Stratosail system under typical wind conditions in the stratosphere. The Stratosail is attached below the super-pressure helium balloon via a long and thin tether about 10 to 15 km below the balloon, providing a drag force to alter the flight path of the balloon. Its operation depends on the natural differences in the wind speed and wind direction at different altitudes in the atmosphere that act on the balloon and the Stratosail (spaced far apart by 10km to 15 km). In this study, we calculated the drag forces on the balloon and Stratosail for typical wind speeds at various altitudes in the stratosphere. The tether was also modelled as a cable joining the balloon and sail. With this model, the drift velocity of the system was calculated for various altitudes and the angle of attack of the sail.

Keywords: stratosail, computational fluid dynamics

How to Cite:

Loganathan, J. & Lim, K. & Lee, H. & Khoo, B., (2021) “Computational Fluid Dynamics Study of Balloon System Tethered to a Stratosail”, Journal of High Altitude Ballooning 1(1). doi:



Published on
09 Aug 2021
Peer Reviewed