Press Release

Giant SUNRISE Telescope Successfully Launched

By SpaceRef Editor
June 8, 2009
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Giant SUNRISE Telescope Successfully Launched

The giant telescope SUNRISE was launched from Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden. At 08.05 (local time) this morning, the largest balloon born telescope ever took off from Swedish Space Corporation’s (SSC) launch facility at Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden. The balloon, the technical equipment and the gondola weigh around 6 ton all together and this is by far the heaviest payload ever launched with a balloon from Esrange.

The telescope is now floating at an altitude of …… km and has expanded to 950.000 m3, which is around 140 meters in diameter. It has just left the Norwegian coast heading for Canada where it will land in about 4-6 days. The exact landing spot depends on the wind direction and for how long the flight will last.

Why fly from Esrange Space Center?

The Esrange facility is superbly located for a launch of such a telescope. During the summer, the stratospheric winds carry the balloon westwards at nearly constant latitude, and under continuous sunshine. Thus while most conventional balloon flights must be terminated at sunset, a long-duration flight from Esrange can stay at float for about a week until it reaches Western Canada. By using ELINK, an SSC Ethernet based telemetry system, the instruments onboard SUNRISE will be calibrated during the initial phase of the flight. An extra mobile ground station for ELINK has been mounted at the Norwegian coast to extend the time for calibration with high bandwidth data. The data from the mobile station is routed over Internet to Esrange. The communication with SUNRISE will after loss of line of sight data, go through different satellite systems during the rest of the flight.

“We started the preparations together with the SUNRISE team almost four years ago and it is very inspiring to see the first European payload of this size take off, says Mr. Lennart Poromaa, head of Science Services Division at Esrange Space Center. ” We have developed the ELINK system for payloads and missions like SUNRISE and we look forward to many more launches of this dignity, with scientific teams from all over the world”.

“During the flight the telescope will observe the sun without interruption thanks to the midnight sun period”, says Dr. Peter Barthol, project manager for the mission, and adds: “Our onboard instruments will measure details on the solar surface with an unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution. The conditions at 37 km float altitude are close to those in space, so we are not limited in performance by the atmospheric seeing as ground based telescopes usually are. And we have access to the ultraviolet regime of the solar light, which will give us new insights into the physics of the Sun. We are so happy about this successful launch and are eager to get the first scientific data after the instrument check-out phase.

The SUNRISE mission

SUNRISE is an international scientific mission with the objective to study the structure and dynamics of the solar magnetic field. The scientific teams involved come from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (PI institution) and the Kiepenheuer Institut for Sonnenphysik in Germany, the Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia and the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias in Spain and the High Altitude Observatory /NCAR in the U.S.. The scientists have been working together for seven years to make this flight happen.

SUNRISE is also part of the framework of NASA’s LDB (Long Duration Balloon) program. The Colombia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF) has the overall operational responsibility for the campaign activities and they were supported by a project manager and an operational team from the Swedish Space Corporation stationed at Esrange.

Read more:

about launch services at Esrange Space Center:
about SUNRISE:
about CSBF:

For further information please contact

Tomas Hedqvist, operation officer and project leader, Esrange Space Center, SSC
Phone: +46 70 517 20 26
Dr. Peter Barthol, project manager, The Max Plank Institute, Germany
Phone: +49 172 668 2806
Johanna Bergstrom-Roos, information manager at Esrange Space Center, SSC
Phone: +46 70 544 60 21

Swedish Space Corporation – a general contractor in space and aerospace.

Swedish Space designs, tests, launches and operates space and aerospace systems. SSC operations consists of five business units located in Stockholm, Kiruna and Vidsel. In Stockholm SSC develops satellites, space vehicle subsystems and payloads for sounding rockets as well as airborne systems for maritime surveillance. SSC owns a Teleport, that provides satellite communication services in Stockholm. At the Esrange Space Center, east of Kiruna, SSC launches sounding rockets and balloons and operates one of the world’s busiest satellite ground stations. SSC also owns a satellite ground station in Chile, Santiago Satellite Station. Through the North European Aerospace Test range – NEAT at the Vidsel Test Range, SSC is involved in testing various air and space vehicles.

SSC owns several subsidiary companies; LSE, a German company that provides engineering and satellite operation services. USN, a US-based company that provides space operation services, ECAPS a Swedish company that develops and manufactures “green” propulsion systems and NanoSpace a Swedish company that develops micromechanical systems for space applications.
The Swedish Space Corporation group has 600 employees.

SpaceRef staff editor.