updated 4/1/2011 3:45:14 AM ET 2011-04-01T07:45:14

SIOUX FALLS, S.D., March 31, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On March 4, 2011, a Raven (Nasdaq:RAVN) Aerostar designed and manufactured Zero Pressure Balloon, flown by Cornell University graduate students, broke the world Amateur Radio High Altitude Ballooning records for highest altitude and largest balloon envelope. The near-space flight reached a maximum altitude of 135,030 feet and the envelope's fully expanded volume arrived at a record-breaking 141,000 cubic feet.

Raven Aerostar Zero Pressure Balloon
Raven Aerostar Zero Pressure Balloon flown by Cornell University graduate students




A photo accompanying this release is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=9429

This flight is part of a graduate program in Systems Engineering at Cornell University. The program has continued to use high altitude balloons as platforms to provide low-cost and fast turnaround solutions. The involved teams have designed and constructed the payload tracking systems and radio frequency data links using amateur radio systems. Aerostar's high reliability balloons provide a true space mission experience for the Cornell Students. Mike Smith, a Raven Aerostar Aerospace Engineer, said, "The Cornell program is the perfect example of what we would like to see at universities all over the country. There is no other platform that provides young engineers with the real space mission feel without having to wait years for a ride on an orbital vehicle. Furthermore, instruments can be recovered, upgraded, and re-flown in a matter of weeks." Aerostar balloons can loiter at constant altitude for hours or days, allowing long term observation and equipment check-out in a space equivalent environment.

Raven Aerostar 's High Altitude Balloon Plant, located in Sulphur Springs, TX, can trace its roots to the beginning of modern stratospheric ballooning in the late 1940s. Since that time, the technology has grown to allow payloads of over three tons to be carried to altitudes of over 130,000 ft. Balloon operations are much less expensive than orbital missions, and project time lines are much shorter. At the student level, the low cost, fast turnaround balloon projects promote a sense of schedule responsibility that is not possible with student satellite projects. Alternative methods can take years before a student satellite makes it into orbit.

About Aerostar International

Aerostar International, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Raven Industries (Nasdaq:RAVN), a U.S. manufacturer providing Aerospace Products, Military Products, Tethered Aerostats, Protective Wear, Marine Navigation Products and Custom Inflatables to various markets. Raven Aerostar has been involved in lighter-than-air products since the 1950's. Today, Aerostar engineers and manufactures aerostats for military and non-military use. Aerostar also manufactures personnel and cargo parachutes for the U.S. Army, protective wear for all branches of the military, high-altitude super-pressure balloons for NASA, high-altitude airships for the Space Missile Defense Command and custom character inflatables for the largest Thanksgiving Day Parade and theme parks.

About Raven Industries, Inc. 

Since 1956, Raven Industries has designed and manufactured high-quality, high-value technical products.  Raven is publicly traded on NASDAQ (RAVN) and has earned an international reputation for innovation, product quality, high performance and unmatched service.  With strengths in engineering, manufacturing, and technological innovation, Raven serves the precision agriculture, high performance specialty films, aerospace, and electronic manufacturing services markets.  

On the Internet, information is available at:

 www.ravenaerostar.com

www.ravenind.com

The photo is also available via AP PhotoExpress

CONTACT:  Abby Schmidt
          Raven Aerostar
          Sales and Marketing Coordinator
          605-731-0981
          Abby.Schmidt@ravenind.com 

          Kristin Tilus
          PR Coordinator
          Raven Industries
          205 E 6th Street
          Sioux Falls, SD 57104
          Phone: 605-575-0640
          Fax: 605-335-0209

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