ODISSEA (Campaigns)

Odissea was the generic name of a series of balloon launch campaigns transporting scientific/technological payloads which were carried out on the Mediterranean basin from Sicily to the southeastern coast of Spain.

The effort involved a three part agreement between Italy, France and Spain. By the Italian side the collaboration consisted in the use of the Trapani-Milo launch base, all the necessary hardware, a ground crew and initial tracking after launching. The French were in charge of the launch operation itself, providing the operational staff, the balloons and helium used. Finally the Spanish side offered trought the INTA (Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial) tracking/telemetry coverage over the Mediterranean sea using two stations, one located in Palma de Mallorca (39º 36'N 2º 41'W) and the other in El Arenosillo (37º 6'N 6º 44'W) near Huelva. INTA also was in charge of the recovery operations once the payloads touched Spanish soil.

The initiative's name is -according to some sources- due to Mr. Armand Soubrier chief of the balloon sector of CNES at the time and was inspired in the infamous epic poem which Homer wrote in the eight century BC probably as a metaphore of the exploratory spirit fueling the balloon effort. This was also evident in the name of several of the missions performed that were named after characters found in Homer's masterpiece: ULYSSES, NAUSICAA, POLIFEMO, CIRCE or TELEMAQUE to name a few. Even the launch vehicle used in Trapani-Milo base to transport and hold the payloads during launches was baptized as "PENELOPE".

The flights were carried out in summer when the winds blow from east over a more or less straight line following the 38º parallel. The major part of the flight was over open sea overflying land just at the end of each mission. The first of such flights was launched from Trapani-Milo in August 6, 1977 traveling in 20 hours to Spain. That maiden flight marked the start for a succesfull cooperative effort between the 3 countries which allowed the realization of more than 40 balloon-borne missions for several laboratories and Universities from Europe and the rest of the world, in a program that spanned through the entire decade of 80's and the first years of the following.

The Odissea agreement ended in 1992 after suffering the retirement of the French part, but the transmediterranean balloon flights were continued by the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (Italian Space Agency or ASI) and their Spanish colleagues, with the italians taking over the entire management of the balloon operations.

Several flights were performed until July 2002 when was carried out the last mission completing a total of sixty six successful transmediterranean crossings.

List of balloons launched under the ODISSEA agreement (incomplete)

Launch baseDateFlight DurationExperimentPayload landing place or cause of the failure
Trapani8/6/197722 h 20 mTECHNOIn Aracena, Sevilla, Spain
Trapani8/11/197721 hPAMIn Puerto Real, Cadiz, Spain
Trapani7/20/197818 hPAFIn Caceres, Montanchez, Spain
Trapani7/28/197817 h 25 mAGLAEIn Alcala, Sevilla, Spain
Trapani8/10/197818 h 37 mHXR-78In Valenzuela, Cordoba, Spain
Trapani8/20/197824 h 37 mCESAR / CLEOPATREIn Santa Ollala, Madrid, Spain
Trapani8/5/19791 h 30 mNAUSICAA IBalloon failure. Recovered near Rocca Palumba, Sicily, Italy
Trapani8/26/197917 hCELIMENE - HXR79In Cullar de Baza, Granada, Spain
Trapani8/28/197927 hNAUSICAA IIIn Hornachuelos, Cordoba, Spain
Trapani7/5/19802 hERCOLE - BALLOON TESTIn Sicily, Italy
Trapani7/19/1980~ 18 hULISSE 80In Spain
Trapani7/25/198020 h 25 mNAUSICAAIn Huelva, Spain
Trapani7/31/1980---ERCOLE - BALLOON TESTAborted flight. Balloon failure
Trapani8/4/198018 h 10 mENEAIn Merida, Badajoz, Spain
Trapani6/29/198118 h 45 mCLYTONEE100 km N of Sevilla, Spain
Trapani7/6/1981---POLIFEMONear Sciacca, Sicily, Italy
Trapani7/14/198116 h 30 mMINIZEBRA50 km N of Huelva, Spain
Trapani7/21/198116 hPOKER-HXR81MNear Llerena, 100 km N of Sevilla, Spain
Trapani8/3/1981~ 15 hULYSEE60 km N of Sevilla, Spain
Trapani8/6/198123 h 30 mTXC (Transient X-RAY Camera) - ENEA60 km N of Sevilla, Spain
Trapani7/1/198322 hALIOSNear Sevilla, Spain
Trapani7/11/198322 hTELEMAQUENear Sevilla, Spain
Trapani7/26/1983~ 20 hELENANear Sevilla, Spain
Trapani6/26/198419 h 20 mALIOS60 km NE of Huelva, Spain
Trapani7/10/1984---TIFANI (Telescope Infrarouge Froid pour l'Astronomie des Nuages Interstellaires)Payload lost in the sea 250 kms from the spanish coast
Trapani7/22/198420 h 20 mPOKER60 kms south of Salamanca, Spain
Trapani7/30/198418 h 20 mARGO50 km E of Jerez, Spain
Trapani8/??/1984---HERCULE--- No Data ---
Trapani8/6/1984~ 20 hTELEMAQUEnorth of Villar del Rey, Spain
Trapani??/??/1985---MIFRASO - PALLASNear the launch site, Sicily, Italy
Trapani??/??/1985---ALIOS30 km from the launch site
Trapani7/??/198521 hNAUSICAAIn the Cordoba zone in Spain
Trapani8/5/198523 hPOKERIn the Granada zone in Spain
Trapani7/2/198620 h 40 mALIOS--- No Data ---
Trapani7/11/198620 h 10 mFIGARO II (French Italian Gamma Ray Observatory)In Sevilla region, Spain.
Trapani7/29/198620 hMIFRASO - PALLASNear Sevilla, Spain
Trapani7/7/1987~ 20 hTHEMISNear Sevilla, Spain
Trapani7/15/1987~ 21 hMIFRASO - PALLASNear Sevilla, Spain
Trapani7/29/1987~ 22 hARGONear Sevilla, Spain
Trapani8/4/1987~ 19 hAROMENear Sevilla, Spain
Trapani7/13/1989---ILLIADAIn Huelva, Spain
Trapani8/9/1989~23 hARGO - MINI-TIRIn El Bosque, near Jerez de la Frontera, Spain
Trapani8/??/1990---DOUBLE LANGMUIR PROBE--- No Data ---

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