This gondola was a multi-purpose, multi-institutional telescope facility for infrared astronomical studies. The instrument consists of a balloon-borne Cassegrain telescope with a 102-cm mirror. It was built in 1971 by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) and the University of Arizona and flown nineteen times since 1972; thirteen of those flights were successful. A total of six different infra-red instruments were flown at the focal plane of the mirror. Data gathered with this instrument contributed significantly to the understanding of a number of fundamental astronomical problems and geophysical problems. The gondola system also represents the operational stage in the development of stabilized platforms in scientific ballooning.
SAO transferred this gondola to NASM in 1996.
Transferred from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory