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Launching stratospheric balloons

The teams from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and France's space agency, the Centre national d'études spatiales (CNES), usually arrive at the launch site two weeks in advance to prepare the equipment that will be used during the campaign.

Once all of the setup is complete, the campaign begins. Each campaign lasts between six and eight weeks, depending on the number of balloons to be launched. On average, there are 10 balloon launches per campaign, and three to four days are anticipated for each operation. Balloon launches are always very dependent on weather conditions, which is why they normally take place early in the morning or later in the evening, when winds are at their lowest. During launch operation, the surface wind cannot exceed 2.5 to 4 metres per second, depending on the size of the balloon.

The final flight concludes the campaign. The two weeks that follow are used for storing equipment and post-campaign meetings.

Animation that shows what happens during a stratospheric balloon launch day. (Credit: CSA)

Launch day

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