Timmins Stratospheric Balloon Base

Did you know?

Fact number 1

The volume of the largest open stratospheric balloons used by Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) can be up to 1,200,000 m3.

Fact number 2

The height of a deployed balloon, including the flight chain, is about 300 m, about half as tall as the CN Tower.

Fact number 3

The envelope alone can be as high as a 35-floor building, or the height of the tower of Montreal's Olympic Stadium; and its diameter is equivalent to the size of 2 hockey rinks or 2 Airbus A-340s.

Fact number 4

The area of the envelope, if deployed flat, is equivalent to approximately 8 soccer fields.

Fact number 5

For more information on other types of balloons, visit the following website: www.cnes.fr/web/CNES-fr/8510-differents-types-de-ballons.php (French only).

Through a collaboration between the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), a new $4-million dollar launch facility was built in Timmins, Ontario, Canada.

The first official campaign is set to take place from August 2014 until September 2014. In September 2013, two flights were performed to test the CNES' most recent stratospheric balloon technology.

The City of Timmins was selected in March 2012 as the Canadian launch site because of its favourable latitude, wind and weather conditions, its low population density in key areas surrounding the city and optimal on-site infrastructure. It was the top pick in Canada for meeting the strict regulations governing high-altitude balloon launches and recovery.

There are launch bases around the world.  There are sites in the Americas, in the polar regions of Antarctica and the Arctic, Europe, Asia and Oceania. In the past, some balloons were even released from boats!

For more information, visit the STRATOCAT site which lists balloon launch bases and  reports on flight news from around the world.

Balloons launched in Timmins

Since September 2013, Timmins residents can see open stratospheric balloons (BSO) in their skies.

These BSOs are proven. They have been used by the CNES for 50 years! The size of these balloons can vary from a few thousand to nearly one million cubic metres. The largest balloons can handle payloads from a few dozen kilograms up to 1.1 tonnes, at any desired altitude in the stratosphere (up to approximately 42 km).

In addition to being non-pressurized, the main feature that distinguishes the BSO from other stratospheric balloons is that they have two inflation sleeves located in the upper part of the envelope of the balloon. These openings allow the balloon to be filled with gas that is lighter than air, either helium or hydrogen. The envelope is also opened by exhaust hoses placed at the bottom of the balloon. These openings are used to strike a balance between the atmospheric pressure and the gas, thereby avoiding the creation of an overpressure situation.

Image of a balloon's maximum payload capacity: 1.1 ton

(Credit: Canadian Space Agency)