Preparation of a french balloon launch at l'île Royale

When in the middle of the 60's decade, Algeria become an independient nation, France began the search of a suitable place for the construction of a permanent site to carry out space experiences, to replaced the Saharan polygons of Hammaguir and Colomb Bechar being returned to the algerians. After some feasibility studies, the final election fell on the ultramarine territory of the French Guiana. The new base was installed near the city of Kourou and would be known as the Centre Spatial Guyanais.

The construction tasks began in 1965, and after three years of continuous efforts on July 9th 1968, the center was formally inaugurated with the first successful launch of a sounding rocket of the "Veronique" class. Soon other experiences with "Diamant" vectors and "Europe" (a distant cousin of the actual Ariane) would come.

Starting on 1969, Kourou facilities were also used to perform stratospheric balloon launches. Among the projects involved in these flights were the experiences "ESSOR" and "ARAIGNEE" wich where some sort of hybrid flights involving balloons launched free wich after reach float altitude reeled down a thether and were anchored to the ground. Also were performed some test flights on the EOLE project, a joint experience with the U.S. around a constant level aerostat denominated ATMOSAT and several test of a balloon of special kind built by ONERA (Office National d'Etudes Et Recherches Aerospatiales) designed to fly in the Mars atmosphere.

The launchings took place from several points of the immense complex: in l'île Royale (also denominated Devil's Island -see photo-), from the local airfield, from the neighborhoods of the technical center and in the old drop zone for sounding rockets. Up to 1975 almost 80 flights were carried out from those four points.

In recent years only conventional meteorological soundings are made during the launch campaigns of Ariane vectors. Nevertheless, there are projects in study to perform again in the future new balloon launchings, taking advantage of the proximity of the Kourou site with the equator.

Table of balloons launched from Kourou

DateHourFlight DurationExperimentPayload landing place or cause of the failure
3/13/196913:08 utcF 7 hGAMMA RAY TELESCOPE--- No Data ---
7/7/1974 84 dCBS (Carrier Balloon System)Over the Amazonia, Brazil
9/??/1974 ---ATMOSAT TEST--- No Data ---
9/14/1975 59 dCBS (Carrier Balloon System)Over Micronesia
9/18/1975 56 dCBS (Carrier Balloon System)Over Borneo
9/25/1975 26 dCBS (Carrier Balloon System)Near Ceilan, Indian Ocean
9/29/1975 35 dCBS (Carrier Balloon System)In central Pacific Ocean
10/3/1975 22 dCBS (Carrier Balloon System)In the African coast
10/7/1975 39 dCBS (Carrier Balloon System)In the Central Atlantic Ocean
10/12/1975 27 dCBS (Carrier Balloon System)Over Micronesia
10/14/197510:47 utc11 h 45 mATMOSAT TESTIn the Atlantic Ocean
10/16/1975 24 dCBS (Carrier Balloon System)In central Pacific Ocean
10/22/1975 24 dCBS (Carrier Balloon System)Over Micronesia
10/30/1975 18 dCBS (Carrier Balloon System)In Ethiopia
11/5/1975 36 dCBS (Carrier Balloon System)Northwest of Southamerica
11/6/1975 33 dCBS (Carrier Balloon System)Northwest of Southamerica
9/16/1980 38 dRACCOON (Radiation Contolled Balloon)In the Amazonic jungle
9/19/1980 14 dRACCOON (Radiation Contolled Balloon)--- No Data ---
9/22/1980 27 dRACCOON (Radiation Contolled Balloon)--- No Data ---

If you consider this website interesting or useful, you can help me to keep it up and running with a small donation to cover the operational costs. Just the equivalent of the price of a cup of coffee helps a lot.