Utah State University has been chosen to test high-altitude balloons made by Winzen International Inc., says James L. Rand, president of the San Antonio, Texas, company.

Winzen has built balloons that have gone as high as 113,740 feet in manned flights and 172,000 feet in unmanned flights. But most of the balloons are designed to stay up only a few days, Rand said.The company now is designing balloons made from a nylon film that prevents the loss of helium gas and "should stay up for over a year."

"We've had one that stayed aloft for more than 400 days," Rand said at a Wednesday meeting of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Utah chapter here.

Rand noted that altitudes of more than 100,000 feet, "it takes just 10 days to go around the world."

Rand said his company would provide USU with experimental balloons and instructions.

The typical teardrop-shaped balloon ascends at a rate of 1,000 feet per minute, taking about a half hour to get through commercial airspace. Rand said Winzen is experimenting with newer shapes it hopes will rise at 3,000 feet per minute.

USU teams also will be testing balloons made from newer materials and using different communications equipment.