Purpose of the flight and payload description
The ExoMars HADT was a program developed by ARCA for the European Space Agency (ESA), that aimed to test the ExoMars spacecraft parachutes.
The ExoMars spacecraft consists of a space probe named ESA Orbiter and a Mars landing module, named ESA EDL Demonstrator Module. ARCA's role in the ExoMars program was to test the atmospheric deceleration parachutes of the EDL module in conditions similar to the ones in the Martian atmosphere. Under this program ARCA was to carry out two stratospheric flights: an avionics qualification flight and the High Altitude Drop Test (HADT).
The objective of this flight was to test the avionics and communication systems, demonstrating the container sealing after sea landing and the capability to identify and recover the equipment from the sea surface.
The launch took place on September 16, 2013, from the Black Sea coast and comprised three pressurized containers containing the avionics equipment that will be necessary to test the ExoMars spacecraft parachute during the incoming future flights. The pressurized containers, carried by a cluster of twelve neoprene balloon, were launched at 7:15 AM and the ascension took 90 minutes to an altitude of 24,470 km.
At this altitude the containers were released under a dedicated recovery parachute and landed on the sea, twenty minutes later. The containers and the recovery parachute were recovered by the Navy, at a distance of 92 km from the launch point.
Althought the mission was succesful, and despite the fact that ARCA had built a DTV (Drop Test Vehicle) which was rocket shaped, aerodynamically stable and was equipped with the parachute deployment system and the avionics supplied by ESA, that second phase of the program was never performed. More than five years later in 2018, Vorticity Systems from the UK took over the parachute tests for the project.
Details of the balloon flight
Balloon launched on: 9/16/2013 at 7:15 local
Launch site: Constanta Harbour, Romania
Balloon launched by: Asociatia Romana pentru Cosmonautica si Aeronautica (ARCA)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Weather Balloon Cluster x 12
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 9/16/2013
Balloon flight duration (F: time at float only, otherwise total flight time in d:days / h:hours or m:minutes - ): 1 h 30 m
Landing site: In the Black Sea 90 km from launch site