Skip to main content

Solar Ballooning: Rising with the Sun

This new exhibition explains the history and technology behind solar ballooning, takes a peek at its future, and highlights two important New Mexico solar balloon flights.

In Solar Ballooning: Rising with the Sun, learn about the fascinating history of solar balloons, and how they have been used for everything from science experiments to record setting.

Solar Ballooning title panel

Like other balloons, solar balloons have taken humans and our scientific instruments aloft. Using the power of the sun to create hot, buoyant air, solar balloons of different designs are relatively recent arrivals to the world of ballooning.

Early balloonists were not completely without insight into the potential of the Sun to heat air within an envelope. In fact, they saw direct evidence of this when balloons escaped their tethers and took off on their own after sitting in direct sunlight. A few of these flights placed those onboard in great peril, so despite the promise of this technology, gas ballooning came to dominate well into the 20th century, and solar balloons emerged only in the 1970's.

Since then, they have shown promise as scientific platforms and, when combined with propane burners, they have also shown promise in the sport of hot air ballooning.

Learn more, and plan your visit today.