zero2infinity Tests Microbloon 3.0

Microbloon during a test flight. (Credit: zero2infinity)
Microbloon during a test flight. (Credit: zero2infinity)

BARCELONA, Spain (zero2infinity PR) — On Friday, 6 September 2013, zero2infinity performed a test flight of microbloon 3.0 from the airport of Cordoba, Spain. microbloon 3.0 is an inflatable pod manufactured by Thin Red Line Aerospace and ascended smoothly up to 27km.

The Spanish company zero2infinity, based in Barcelona took another decisive step in development of its high performance stratospheric balloon systems when it launched microbloon 3.0 on Friday, September 6th, 2013. An ideal launch location for high-altitude balloons, the airport of Cordoba, Spain was selected for this test flight. With perfect meteorology and effective support from airport and the civil aviation authorities AESA and AENA, the project suffered no delays. With an exemplary 3 hour and 10 minute flight microbloon 3.0 spent 53 minutes at its designated float altitude of 27 km (88,600 feet), ultimately landing on target about 60 km North of Cordoba where the team was in place to promptly effect recovery.

A key objective of the flight was to test the behavior, strength and suitability of an inflatable pressurized payload capsule (“pod”) for microbloon. The pod was designed and manufactured by Thin Red Line Aerospace, the Canadian company known for providing the inflatable pressure hulls for the Bigelow Aerospace Genesis spacecraft. The pod behaved flawlessly during the flight and confirmed superior performance and resistance of inflatable structures.

Microbloon just after release. (Credit: zero2infinity)
Microbloon just after release. (Credit: zero2infinity)

“Inflatable structures are unbelievably efficient compared to advanced materials such as Carbon Fiber or light alloys. They hold promise of safer, more affordable applications in Near Space and beyond”, says José Mariano López-Urdiales, CEO of zero2infinity.

Maxim de Jong, Thin Red Line Aerospace Chief Engineer likewise expressed his enthusiasm: “We based the zero2infinity pod entirely on our proprietary Ultra High Performance Vessel (UHPV) architecture. Developed largely in NASA space exploration program context, we welcomed this exciting flight opportunity to support zero2infinity’s visionary project while further validating UHPV technology as the highest performance, lightest weight inflatable pressure vessel.”

As with previous launches, the operations and recovery were led by Steven Peterzén, from the ISTAR Group, a leading expert in stratospheric balloons. This launch served as further training for the zero2infinity crew. The company is currently operational to send scientific and technical payloads to Near-Space and aims to start its manned test program next year. Commercial operations should start soon after to offer the view from Near-Space to private passengers.

Photos can be found here: photos