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National Balloon Facility

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National Balloon Facility

National Balloon Facility
Established 1961
Field of research Research Ballooning
Director Prof. R. K. Manchanda
Address TIFR Balloon Facility, ECIL PO,
Hyderabad- 500 062
Location Hyderabad
Operating agency TIFR and ISRO

National Balloon Facility, also known as TIFR Balloon Facility, is a Stratospheric balloon launch base under joint management of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This institute is located at Hyderabad near ECIL.[1] Being the only major balloon facility in the world close to the geomagnetic equator, this facility is extensively used by researchers from all over the world.[2]


Ballooning activity in India was prompted by research into atmospheric exploration and cosmic ray studies. Dr. Homi J. Bhabha from TIFR in 1940s started sending balloons up to an altitude of 25 km to study secondary cosmic radiation. Due to unique geographic reasons Hyderabad was selected for stratospheric balloon launches. After various diplomatic meetings arrangements were made by US and Indian organisations to jointly launch balloons from Hyderabad. The first launch had support of Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory (AFCRL) and TIFR.

The launches were carried out from two locations, the US balloons were launched from Begumpet Airport and Indian balloons from Osmania University Campus. The first balloon launched was on 2 February 1961. In first stage of the programme forty balloons were launched.

After five years all the facilities were consolidated at Osmania University and under management of National Center for Atmospheric Research & TIFR and around 170 balloons were launched.

After a few years with increasing demands for balloon flights, a relatively low population density and proximity to the geomagnetic equator, a permanent site at Hyderabad near ECIL was selected. However, presently due to rapid development this facility is today surrounded by several population settlements. NBF is surrounded by the Cherlapally Central Jail in the east, Kamala Nagar in the west and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd. in the south.[3]


The campus contains a full fledged balloon manufacturing facility. The institute conducts balloon based scientific experiments in X-ray and Infrared Astronomy, and in Aeronomy. Balloons from this facility are launched twice in a year, i.e. in summer and winter. NBF also regularly monitors and analyses local weather at tropospheric and stratospheric altitudes, required for making decisions about balloon launches.

See also

  • Balloons for X-ray astronomy


Coordinates: 17°28′27″N 78°34′53″E / 17.47417°N 78.58139°E / 17.47417; 78.58139

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