First Tests of Balloon Launches From Timmins Successful

©CNES/Arnaud Deramecourt

Release of a zero-pressure stratospheric balloon in Sweden.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the French space agency (Centre national d'tudes spatiales or CNES) successfully completed a series of tests for the first trial launch of a stratospheric balloon scheduled for 2013. The tests took place from September 10-13 at the proposed launch site is in Timmins, Ontario.

As reported last June on SpaceRef Canada, The CSA and CNES plan to launch stratospheric balloons from a launch site in Timmins, Ontario.


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Envelope of the balloon being unfolded. Credit: CSA

Taking place from September 10 to 13, 2012, the main objective was to perform a dry run of the end of flight stages of a stratospheric balloon. Various procedures associated with the recovery of the balloon envelope and the flight chain were validated. This involves using the control system and mock-ups of scientific instruments. These procedures simulated the recovery of a balloon after it falls back to earth after a flight.

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Balloon envelope being dropped by helicopter in the forest. Credit: CSA

"Now that we have successfully completed this dry run, I can't wait to witness the next flight campaigns," remarked CSA President Steve MacLean. "Since these missions will be low-cost, it will be possible to carry them out regularly, which will have a direct impact on the training of our next generation of space scientists and engineers. This collaboration between the CSA, the CNES and the City of Timmins will help Canada maintain its position as a world leader in the space exploration field and to continue developing its scientific and technological innovation capacities."

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Balloon envelope in the forest waiting for the ground team for a pick up. Credit: CSA

"With the simulated balloon recovery, the City of Timmins is one day closer to opening the door to a new, non-traditional industry. Who would have thought that a resource-based community would be working in partnership with the Canadian Space Agency on a stratospheric balloon project? This is good news worth celebrating. The economic impacts of this project are immediate and will benefit the City long term. Today, the sky is no longer the limit for the City of Timmins as we reach for new heights and seek out new opportunities," said Tom Laughren, Mayor of Timmins.

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Helicopter picking up the flight chain for a drop in the forest. Credit: CSA

The CSA is currently in consultations with the Canadian space community to identify which scientific and technical experiments could be included on the CNES's annual stratospheric balloon flights.

Test flights of the balloons will start in 2013 and the first launch campaign with onboard experiments is expected to be held in 2014.