ISTAR stands for International Science Technology and Research and is a company that offers all the services associated with the launch, flight, operation and recovery of payloads onboard stratospheric balloons. It count with offices in Bend, Oregon, and Colorado Springs.
In 1991, ISTAR began supporting stratospheric research programs utilizing high altitude balloons, while directly supporting a NASA funded ozone investigation in Greenland with a team from Harvard University. In 1992, ISTAR took the field management role of the NASA funded stratospheric balloon program in Antarctica.
From 1992 - 2001, ISTAR successfully managed 14 separate 800,000 m3 balloons from Antarctica and launched over 20 smaller balloons. During that period, ISTAR also managed and lead the recovery team of the payloads and flight hardware.
In 2001, ISTAR was contacted by the Italian Space Agency to manage and lead the development of the first Long Duration Balloon Program in Europe through the University of Rome La Sapienza. ISTAR chose Svalbard, Norway as the launch location and base of the newly formed Nobile/Amundsen Stratospheric Balloon Center in Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen. This effort has resulted in 13 balloon launches since 2003, including the successful 2009 launch of the SORA experiment with 4 piggyback payloads on a 800,000 m3 balloon. ISTAR performed the launch operations without an experienced crew then traveled to Baffin Island, Canada to recovery the payload.
From the start of the Nobile/Amundsen SBC in Svalbard, ISTAR took a primary interest in developing this program to make use of smaller balloons to carry scientific experiments, commercial access to Near Space and as an easy avenue to introduce students to Near Space research. In June of 2006, ISTAR launched the first circumpolar balloon flight of the northern polar region from Svalbard carrying the PEGASO experiment, which measured the flux of the Earth's magnetic field. This balloon made a near perfect circle around the North Pole in 14 days.
ISTAR developed the Italian LDB program in Svalbard, designed and fabricated the radiation shields and equipment stands for the BRAIN experiment, now on location at Concordia Station Antarctica. While in Antarctica, ISTAR launched the first Italian LDB experiment PEGASO from the M.Z. Station at Bay Terra Nova, Antarctica.
List of balloons launched by the Istar Group around the world