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Behind The Scenes Of Balloons

sioux falls - Balloons may sound simple, but they're capable of a lot of things. 

You may be surprised to find out that balloons made right here in KELOLAND can help people all over the world. 

This just might look like a pile of plastic to you. 

But eventually, it will soar into the stratosphere on a mission. 

"These are balloons that are up between 60 and 100,000 feet," Plant Manager Joe Beck said. 

Joe Beck is the plant manager at Raven Aerostar in Sioux Falls, where anywhere between five to 10 balloons can be made in a day. 

"These are balloons that can stay up for a long time. We can steer them, navigate them, and we can do a lot with them," Beck said. 

Building a balloon takes several pairs of hands. 

Kelli Volk: So what is this machine?
Beck: So this machine cuts all of our plastic and film that goes into our balloons. 

The plastic is later crafted into a balloon and sealed. 

"That's actually creating an airtight seal," Beck said. 

Eventually, it moves onto a station where it's boxed up.

"They're just putting the final touches on things," Beck said. 

So now the balloon is ready to be sent to its next destination. 

But what are these things actually capable of? A variety of missions. 

"Sensing everything from the atmospheric conditions to, being able to connect to people on the ground, being able to look out into space," Raven Aerostar VP and GM Scott Wickersham said. 

It turns out, companies or organizations you're probably familiar with are using balloons made right here in KELOLAND. 

In fact, according to Raven Aerostar's website, the company has even partnered with Google for Project Loon, which aims to bring wireless internet access to people living all around the globe. 

"We are dealing with the highest levels of technical experts around the world that want to take their elements of science and combine it with our balloons and together there's just a lot of changes going on," Wickersham said. 

Raven Aerostar Division Vice President and General Manager Scott Wickersham expects the demand for balloons to, well, balloon in the future. 

"Whether it be science or defense-related, there is such a drive to gather and relay information and balloons are going to be a huge part of that," Wickersham said. 

And both Beck and Wickersham are happy they're a part of it too. 

"Right here in Sioux Falls, there is a real technology hub that's taking place around aerospace, software development, technology development," Wickersham said. 

"Lot of cool things happening right here in Sioux Falls," Beck said. 

So while it may just look like a bunch of plastic right now, it could take everything from communication and gathering and relaying information to new heights. 

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