Global Space Balloon Challenge opens for 2016 competition


The organisers of the Global Space Balloon Challenge have kicked off the new year by opening the doors to registration for the 2016 competition, and brought a new look to their web site.

A full listing of the 2016 competition can be found on their web site/forum at In brief this year’s competition has the same format as the previous two years. The competition will run for registered competitors who launch a high altitude balloon between 11th April and 9th May. Balloon flights will be judged in the following categories :-

Best Education Outreach Initiative

Best Photograph

Best Science Experiment

Best Design

Best Video

Most Helpful Team

Most Charitable Team

Longest Ground Track

Return to Launch Site

Teams entering the  categories of ‘Longest ground track’ and ‘return to launch site’ may only use radio tracking which produce publically verifiable data. They are not open to teams using satellite messengers including SPOT trackers. This is disappointing as it closes the door to low tech teams who may not want to use more advanced and costly radio trackers.

The competition has also lost the categories of highest altitude and best demonstration of space technology which were present in 2015. These categories were an opportunity for well resourced and experienced HAB teams to really show off their skills and funding.

For the last two categories, the organisers of the GSBC stipulate that only trackers with traceable telemetry can be used. We assume that this is to eliminate cheating, especially in the ‘return to launch site’ category. The organisers do, however, say that they will look at alternatives on a case by case basis. So we imagine that teams using SPOT trackers will have to convince the GSBC organisers to accept  their results.

The competition rules, in full, can be found at

Balloon News has been told that entrants from 2014 and 2015 will automatically be entered so there is no need to complete a 2016 entrance form. Please let us know if you have any problem entering the competition.

As for the ‘new look’ to the competition web site, we were underwhelmed. Much of the content has been moved onto a noisy forum. As a result a lot of the clarity for the current years rules has been lost. This is a shame as previously the web site was clear and simple. It also means that up to date content is mixed in with out of date content. Surely this is a  recipe for confusion.

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