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Raven’s Aerostar Subsidiary Announces Successful Flight of NASA Prototype Super-Pressure Balloon in Antarctica

January 16, 2009

SIOUX FALLS, S.D., Jan. 16 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Aerostar
International, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Raven Industries, Inc.
(Nasdaq: RAVN), announced today a seven million cubic foot prototype
super-pressure balloon, built for NASA’s Balloon Program, has surpassed two
weeks of near constant altitude flight over the Antarctic continent. This
flight marks the next milestone in NASA’s plans to develop a vehicle to fly
heavy scientific payloads at the edge of space for periods up to 100 days.

The seven million cubic foot balloon, 274 feet in diameter, was built at
Aerostar’s facility in Sulphur Springs, Texas. The 1500 pound engineering
test payload is equipped with GPS receivers, balloon instrumentation,
satellite communications equipment, and cameras for monitoring the balloon’s
shape. This flight was preceded by another successful test flight of a two
million cubic foot balloon, carried out in New Mexico in June of 2008.

NASA is developing a constant volume balloon that will eventually carry a
payload of 6,000 pounds to 110,000 feet for up to 100 days. Unlike
zero-pressure balloons, the current workhorses of the NASA Balloon Program,
super-pressure balloons will have the ability to maintain very consistent
altitudes under a variety of thermal conditions, including day and night
transitions. Standard balloon designs vary in volume as they are heated and
cooled by day-night cycles. In order to remain at a constant altitude, the
super-pressure balloon must maintain a positive pressure relative to the
outside air.

The design team, comprised of engineers from Aerostar, NASA, CSBF
(Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility), and a team of international
consultants developed a design capable of withstanding the stresses of maximum
heating during the daytime while maintaining positive pressure during the cold
night time. This is the largest super-pressure balloon ever flown
successfully. The team is currently working on the next larger size in the
design that will be flown later this year.

The current flight will verify the structural response of the balloon in
the constant sunlight environment of the southern summer period over
Antarctica. “The data obtained from this flight is crucial for our next steps
in scaling up the design,” said Mike Smith, Senior Aerospace Engineer for
Aerostar. “So far, the balloon performance is showing excellent agreement
with the analytical models.” The traditional constant-pressure balloons being
flown during the same campaign are experiencing altitude variations as much as
15,000 feet as the sun angle varies throughout the Antarctica day. The
super-pressure balloon is experiencing altitude excursions of only a few
hundred feet.

The benefits of the super-pressure design will allow scientific
experiments to be conducted at altitudes above 99 percent of the atmosphere
for durations approaching the capabilities of orbiting platforms. Scientific
balloon missions can be planned and executed for a small fraction of the cost
and time requirements of orbital missions. As an added benefit, balloon borne
instruments are usually recovered, upgraded and flown on subsequent missions.

Real-time position data for the balloons currently flying over Antarctica
can be viewed at http://www.csbf.nasa.gov/antarctica/ice0809.htm

About Aerostar International

Aerostar International, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Raven
Industries (Nasdaq NGS: RAVN), a U.S. manufacturer providing Aerospace
Products, Military Products, Tethered Aerostats, Protective Wear and Custom
Inflatables to various markets.

About Raven Industries, Inc.

Raven is an industrial manufacturer that provides electronic
precision-agriculture products, reinforced plastic sheeting, electronics
manufacturing services, and specialty aerostats and sewn products to niche
markets.

                 On the Internet, information is available at
      http://www.aerostar.com/aerospace.htm, and the company's website,

http://www.ravenind.com.

Financial Relations Board serves as financial relations counsel to this
company, is acting on the company’s behalf in issuing this bulletin and
receiving compensation therefore. The information contained herein is
furnished for information purposes only and is not to be construed as an offer
to buy or sell securities.

SOURCE Raven Industries, Inc.; Aerostar International, Inc.


Source: newswire



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