Aeronautics and Cosmonautics Romanian Association (ARCA)
Aeronautics and Cosmonautics Romanian Association (ARCA) is a non-governmental organization headquartered in Valcea, Romania, which promotes innovative aerospace projects.
The organization's main objectives are to win the Google Lunar X Prize Competition and to send in space the first Romanian rocket, able to carry a cosmonaut. Projects developed at ARCA included: the Demonstrator rockets, the Stabilo manned suborbital vehicle, the Helen unmanned suborbital rocket and the Haas orbital rocket launcher.
The organization choosed balloons as first stage for their unmanned tests. For the thest of Stabilo -a two stage manned suborbital air launched vehicle completed three flights until now- was used a largest Solar Montgolfier balloon. First low altitude flights of Stabilo were completed in 2006. In the same year, Mission 1 was completed at an altitude of 14.700 m and in 2007, Mission2 was launched at an altitude of 12.000 m above the Black Sea.
On October 1, 2010, ARCA successfully launched Helen 2B rocket, at an altitude of 40.000 m from the surface of the Black Sea.
The Helen suborbital rocket is a technological demonstrator for the Google Lunar X Prize. It is a staged vehicle that uses a gravitational stability method in vertical flight without aerodynamic surfaces or jet commands, by towing the component stages and payload. The towing can be made by cable, or rigid-articulated system. The main flight was canceled two times, in 2009 (Mission 3) and 2010 (Mission 4), because of carrier balloon problems.
After that, ARCA switched his focus of development to IAR-111, a program that aims to create a supersonic high altitude airplane intended to extend ARCA's HAAS II rocket launch capabilities in the Google Lunar X Prize competition, and for developing space tourism related technologies.
After the recurrent failures to launch from the sea surface the black film solar balloons they used, the company droped the original plans to use them.
List of balloons launched by ARCA
|Launch base||Date||Flight Duration||Experiment||Payload landing place or cause of the failure|
|Onesti||12/2/2006||---||STABILO 1||--- No Data ---|
|Cape Midia AFB||9/27/2007||---||STABILO 1B||In the Black Sea off the Romanian shore|
|Constanta||11/14/2009||---||HELEN||No Flight. Inflation tubes entangled.|
|Constanta||8/4/2010||---||HELEN 2||No Flight. Balloon rupture|
|Constanta||10/1/2010||---||HELEN 2||--- No Data ---|
|Constanta||9/16/2013||1 h 30 m||EXO-MARS HADT (High Altitude Drop Test)||In the Black Sea 90 km from launch site|