Commercial enterprises trying to reinvigorate space travel have increased in number in recent years. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is one of the most famous of these. Lesser-known commercial space explorers, however, have also been trying to develop new ways to explore the solar system. For Leo Aerospace, it looks like hot air balloons might hold the answer.
This company has been trying to find innovative solutions for the problem of how to launch CubeSats – small cubic satellites measuring about the size of a Rubik’s cube – for space research into the stratosphere easily and at low cost.
Inspired by a 1957 rocket programme developed by the US air force, Leo Aerospace have developed a hot air balloon that will ascend to 100,000 feet, thus entering low Earth orbit (LEO) and from there launch the CubeSat 11 miles into space. At such an altitude, there is far less resistance from the Earth’s atmosphere, so launching these satellites can be done using much less fuel, which makes the endeavor less expensive. Using balloons created from nylon, like conventional balloons, means that the balloon can be used again and again.
This innovative use of hot air balloons might transform space science as we know it, opening up all sorts of possibilities for future, low-cost space exploration.
If you are curious about what it might be like to fly in a hot air balloon or want to experience a hot air balloon adventure without reaching the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere, we offer scenic hot air balloon flights in Bath, Bristol, and other areas of the South West.