Purpose of the flight and payload description

The objective of the flight was to perform a droptest of an instrummented human-sized antropomorphic dummy as part of Project S38 an initiative carried out in the late eighties by the Ministry of Defense of France to study the effects that astronauts may experience during a free fall from the stratosphere.

At that time the European Space Agency (ESA) was carrying out a project to develop a space shuttle called "Hermes" that would give Europe independence in transporting astronauts into space. When the explosion of the American Shuttle "Challenger" occured, ESA started to explore different ways to allow to save the lives of astronauts in a similar occurrence.

The project was developed in two phases. The first one involved the ejection from 38 km of an instrumented dummy (see picture at left) using a stratospheric balloon as platform. The mission was performed by the French Space Agency (CNES) from its balloon launch base of Aire Sur L'Adour, in Landes on September 27, 1988.

The objective of the second phase was to perform a similar jump also from a balloon, but using a human being that would be transported to the stratosphere in a pressurized gondola. After a previous selection, three people left as candidates for the jump: two astronauts and a military parachutist. However, due to lack of funds, the second phase of the project was never completed.

Details of the balloon flight

Balloon launched on: 9/27/1988 at 7:07 UTC
Launch site: Centre de Lancement de Ballons CLBA, Aire Sur L'Adour, Landes, France  
Balloon launched by: Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon model 350sf Zodiac - 350.000 m3
Flight identification number: CNES 1988 #29
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 9/27/1988
Balloon flight duration (F: time at float only, otherwise total flight time in d:days / h:hours or m:minutes - ): 3 h 22 m
Payload weight: 750 kgs

External references

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.