Scientific Ballooning Mission talk by team leaders

The word "balloon" may remind you of an advertising balloon, a hot-air balloon, or a blimp. But the large balloon we are developing is for scientific experiments, and it can travel to space like a satellite or a launch vehicle. The balloon can carry more than several hundred kilograms of onboard equipment to the stratosphere, or 30 to 50 kilometers in altitude. As helium is used for the ascending force, it cannot exceed the stratosphere like a satellite and launch vehicle. On the other hand, the size and weight limits imposed on onboard equipment are lenient. The balloon can also provide 10 or more flight opportunities, which take a few hours to a day, within a country.
Using these advantages, our project greatly contributes to expanding the field and knowledge of space science not only through the latest scientific observations and engineering verification experiments, but also through a number of functional tests of unique cutting-edge observation equipment and flying objects that open up the future of space science.

Project manager

Tetsuya Yoshida

The eternal goal of balloon development is to fly heavier onboard equipment higher and for a longer time. Such a balloon is much anticipated in various scientific observation and engineering experiment fields. At the same time, development of a next generation balloon creates new research opportunities in space science. The Balloon Project Team has been researching and developing a unique super thin membrane high altitude balloon that travels to the mesosphere through the stratosphere. In 2002, we successfully achieved a 53.0-km altitude flight of a 3.4-micron thick polyethylene film balloon -- a world record for unmanned balloon flight. We are continuing to pursue higher altitude flights by a thinner film balloon. We are also aiming to set a world record in the development of a "super pressure balloon," which can fly at a predetermined altitude for tens of days. We expect that in the near future, we will see a balloon fly around another planet that has an atmosphere and conduct a probe.

Although it has been over 200 years since the first hot-air balloon made a successful flight, balloons are still evolving. We would like to expand the possibilities for balloons that gracefully float in the sky.