Each year at Balloon Fiesta, balloon enthusiasts can get hands-on experience to learn about the sport and science of ballooning, and a behind-the-scenes look at Balloon Fiesta event operations. Located at the north end of Balloon Fiesta Park, the 7-Eleven Balloon Discovery Center draws more than 30,000 visitors of all ages each year.
Admission is FREE once inside Balloon Fiesta® gates.
6:00 AM to 11:00 AM
3:30 PM to 7:00 PM
Interactive exhibits illustrate the principles of lighter-than-air flight, the history of the sport, and safety aspects of ballooning. A hot air balloon exhibit has a basket in which kids can "burn" the burners and simulate a balloon flight. Another exhibit demonstrates the "Albuquerque Box" effect, and an Arts & Crafts area tickles the imagination of youngsters about the beauty of balloons.
These are examples of just a few of the exhibits that you’ll find:
PARTS OF A BALLOON
How is a balloon made and constructed? If you don’t know the parts of the balloon, this is the perfect exhibit. Larger-than-life graphics highlight the critical components for each balloon to safely take flight and return to earth.
What makes Albuquerque the Balloon Capital of the world? The Albuquerque Box and its unique weather and wind patterns make our city unlike any other – and perfect for flying balloons. This display illustrates how the “box effect” sits over Balloon Fiesta Park and surrounding areas.
Some aspects of ballooning remains low-tech, and the basket, also called the gondola, is one of them. Most gondolas are made from wicker to minimize the additional weight that the balloon must lift. This exhibit allows you to try your hand at weaving large-radius rattan into a gondola. When the wicker is soaked in water, it becomes pliable. It is woven in a pattern in and out of the vertical supports. As it dries, it becomes rigid.
Weather conditions are critical in determining if a balloon can fly. The Weather Station is a working weather station used by our meteorologists to actually determine if balloons will fly or not.
How much do you think you know about ballooning? Let’s test your knowledge with quiz tables.
NASA at the 7-Eleven Balloon Discovery Center
"People will have an opportunity to learn about the many exciting things NASA is working on right now, such as the X-57 distributed electric propulsion aircraft and other New Aviation Horizons initiative proposed aircraft that will lead to reduced aircraft noise and emissions and maximize fuel economy," said Tony Springer, director of the Integration and Management Office at NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.
NASA's aeronautics efforts are conducted at four field centers across the nation including Ames Research Center and Armstrong Flight Research Center in California; Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and Langley Research Center in Virginia.
A motor and propeller from a 31-foot-span, carbon-composite wing section called the Hybrid-Electric Integrated Systems Testbed will be on display. That research project was a step toward the distributed electric propulsion system developed for the X-57 Maxwell, NASA’s first human piloted experimental aircraft in decades.
Under NASA's Transformative Aeronautics Concepts program, the wing of an Italian-built Tecnam P2006T is being enhanced to feature an electric system. Eventually a special high aspect ratio wing with a distributed propulsion system will be used. Starting with an existing airframe, engineers will be able to compare the performance of the X-plane with the original aircraft. The project, which involves multiple NASA centers and industry partners, also could lead to improved aircraft efficiency, safety and economic benefits.
Another NASA exhibit attraction is a demonstration-sized scientific balloon from NASA's Balloon Program Office, which is based and managed at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Staff members will be on-site at the fiesta to welcome visitors and answer questions about the balloon program’s mission.
Other aspects of NASA's exhibit at the Balloon Fiesta include:
• Former NASA astronaut speakers TBA.
• The Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy is a combination of the world’s largest airborne infrared telescope integrated into a NASA 747SP aircraft. An infrared camera display is used to show attendees how that type of imaging works.
• Former NASA Armstrong aerospace engineering technician demonstrating a high-altitude pressure suit used by pilots of the retired Mach 3 SR-71 and the high-altitude ER-2 Earth resources aircraft.
• A tabletop pressure chamber will explain the requirements for high-altitude pressure suits with water boiling at low temperatures and marshmallow Peeps expanding and contracting.
• An F-15 cockpit simulator gives visitors the chance to picture themselves in the pilot's seat of the high-performance jet.
• A no-cost photo kiosk allows visitors to take a picture in a virtual environment that places them in a spacesuit. Nearby will be a machine that will turn a penny into a NASA souvenir.