The history of this rocket base dates back to 1944, when the command of the Argentinian Air Force began to build new facilities near the city of Chamical, in the La Rioja plains (30º S - 67º W). Once the work was finished in 1946, a small military corp along with civilian personnel from neighboring cities was established. Also was started the aircraft activity, mainly for gunnery and bombing activities in the sourroundings by air units of AVRO LINCOLN bombers.

Aerial view of Chamical from a parachute. Source: Magic 7 (

Subsequently in June 1961, the Government determines the creation of the Centre for Experimentation and Launch of Self-Propelled Rockets (Centro de Ensayo y Lanzamiento de Proyectiles Autopropulsados) but widely known as CELPA-1, Chamical. As a result of the success achieved by the ALFA-Centaur rocket (with the participation of technicians from NASA and France Space Agency), Chamical becomes the first city in the Americas from where a vector was launched for the investigation of the upper atmosphere. CELPA-1 became the nerve center of space activity in Argentina. In subsequent years were performed another experiences with rockets like the Canopus, Orion, Castor, Rigel and Nike-Apache, which allowed the development of important scientific experiments like EXAMETNET, cloud of sodium operation, as well a very active campaign against hail.

In December 1981, the Chamical facility becomes a military airbase, including the launch pad area as an internal functional unit.

There are few references on the launch of stratospheric balloons from there.

The main activity took place during the 1960's decade when were launched performed isolated small balloon missions. They were mainly related to experiments for detection of X-Rays carried out by personnel of IAFE (Instituto de Astronomía y Física del Espacio - Astronomy and Space Physics Institute) using meteorological balloons fitted with a special valve to prevent the burst once the maximum altitude was reached as well to allow a longer flight.

The only flight of a large plastic balloon launched from there took place in 1972 under the so called NEUTRON experience. Within the scientific program of stratospheric balloons developed in Argentina, Chamical never reached the status even of alternate site.

Table of balloons launched from CELPA 1, Chamical, La Rioja (incomplete)

DateHourFlight DurationExperimentPayload landing place or cause of the failure
12/21/1962  X-RAY DETECTOR--- No Data ---
12/22/1962  X-RAY DETECTOR--- No Data ---
6/18/1963  X-RAY DETECTOR--- No Data ---
6/19/1963  X-RAY DETECTOR--- No Data ---
6/23/1963  X-RAY DETECTOR--- No Data ---
6/18/196417:07 utc1 h 50 mX-RAY DETECTOR--- No Data ---
6/20/1964 ---X-RAY DETECTOR--- No Data ---
9/18/1965 ---X-RAY DETECTOR--- No Data ---
8/7/197211:38 local~ 4 hNEUTRON DETECTOR + PHOTOGRAPHIC CAMERA12 km E of the town of Totoralejos, in the zone of Salinas Grandes, Cordoba province