Quick Summary

  • NASA wanted a container weighing solution that could be easily moved to its balloon launch sites & produce a compliant VGM from anywhere. 

  • Third party weighing providers were impractical, expensive and time-consuming.

  • With BISON C-Jacks, NASA now have independence and control over its VGM.

  • They have achieved compliance, cost savings and improved efficiency as a result.

Background

NASA is undoubtedly one of the most recognisable names in the world, pioneers in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research. One of the prevalent methods used by NASA for scientific research are high-altitude space balloons, which are launched up to a vast 160,000 feet for atmospheric testing.

Challenge

NASA's Colombia Science Balloon Facility conducts these remarkable balloon experiments from various launch sites around the globe. In the many remote locations NASA works in, there is little if any infrastructure available for handling containers, let alone weighing them. However NASA has a legal obligation under SOLAS to provide a verified gross mass (VGM) to the shipping line before containerised loads of scientific and balloon equipment can be shipped home to its Palestine, Texas base.

Some weighing options - such as weighing all of the individual cargo items and calculating the VGM - were impractical, given the time and multiple people involved in loading the container, not to mention the bulky nature of the cargo.

Other options - such as hiring gin pole trucks with crane scales to weigh the loaded container - were extremely expensive. Coordinating the timing of loading, weighing and haulage was also problematic when relying on third parties for weighing the container.

Solution

NASA needed a portable, accurate and practical container weighing solution that could be easily moved to its balloon launch sites and relied on to produce a compliant VGM from anywhere - without relying on expensive infrastructure or third parties. BISON C-Jacks fitted this brief perfectly.

NASA simply ships a set of C-Jacks to launch sites alongside the balloon and support equipment. When the containers are re-loaded for the return journey, NASA’s operations team use C-Jacks to weigh the container quickly, accurately and easily, as soon as the container is loaded. With the BISON VGM App, the container weight and other information is emailed instantly to NASA’s shipping officer back in Texas, who then takes care of shipping logistics.

Results

BISON C-Jacks have given NASA independence and control over its VGM compliance obligation and solved NASA’s challenge of weighing containers in remote locations. Key benefits NASA says it has realised in adopting BISON C-Jacks include:

  • Compliance - NASA can ship containers from any location with confidence, ensuring compliance and smooth export shipping.
  • Cost Savings - NASA has eliminated the need to hire expensive container handling equipment and cranes to weigh its containers.
  • Efficiency - NASA can weigh its containers quickly and efficiently at a time and location that best fits its container loading and shipping operations.