Press Release

The giant balloon borne telescope BLAST has landed!

By SpaceRef Editor
June 20, 2005
Filed under , , ,
The giant balloon borne telescope BLAST has landed!

Press images

After a most successful balloon flight, BLAST finally landed at 06:15 UT on 16 June on Victoria Island in Canada. The submillimeter telescope obtained over four days of data in near space that will help scientists understand the evolution of the universe.

The launch at Esrange, the flight over the Atlantic, and the landing in Canada went according to plan. The recovery operation is taking place now and should be completed within the next week. The payload will be partially disassembled at the impact site and transported back to the Cambridge Bay by helicopter and aircraft. Then it will be returned to the scientists at the University of Pennsylvania. So far, the recovery is proceeding very nicely. Scientists on the scene report that the experiment sustained only very minor damage during the landing and that it is in excellent condition. They hope to refurbish the instrument and fly it again within a year or two. Most of the data was stored on board the instrument during the flight. The data vaults have been removed and the scientists will soon begin analyzing the data. Preliminary results are expected within a few months but it will take a few years to analyze all the data. 

“The flight was an unqualified success”, said David Pierce, Chief of NASA’s Balloon Programs Office. “NASA and Esrange have demonstrated an important new way of doing world class science from balloons in the northern hemisphere. We hope that both the US and European science communities will take advantage of this new capability now that we’ve shown it is possible”, said Pierce. NASA’s Balloon Program is managed from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

NASA plans on conducting balloon these campaigns from Esrange every year during June and July. Plans for next year call for two or three large payloads. A cosmic ray detector, TRACER, from the University of Chicago and the Deep Space Test Bed, an experiment to determine effects of long term exposure to space radiation on astronauts are the leading candidates for flights next year.


  • BLAST:   Balloon-borne Large Aperture Sub-millimetre Telescope   Scientific objectives:   To address some of the most important galactic and cosmological questions regarding the formation and evolution of stars, galaxies and clusters.
  • Launch Site: 12 June 2005 / 01:09 (UTC) Esrange – The Aerospace Operations Facility of the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) 
  • Landing: Victoria Island, Canada 71degrees 09,6 minutes North, 110 degrees 49,2 minutes West.   
  • Launch Team: NSBF (National Stratospheric Balloon Facility, USA together with the Esrange launch team
  • Principal Investigators: Prof. Mark Devlin, University of Pennsylvania, Prof. Barth Netterfield, University of Toronto
  • Scientific Participation: University of Pennsylvania, University of Toronto, Brown University, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, University of Miami, University of British Columbia, Cardiff University, INAOE (Mexico) Foundation, NASA
  • Size of the balloon: 140 meter in diameter and 120 m high   
  • Balloon volume:  1,2 million m3 
  • Gas: 5000 m3 helium delivered by AGA        
  • Flight time: 5 days 
  • Altitud: 38- 40 km      
  • Size of the telescope:   Mirror 2 m i diameter  
  • Weight of the telescope: 1,5 ton (2,7 ton with all technical equipment) 
  • Size of the launch pad:  250 000 m2     

For more general information please contact:

Johanna Bergström-Roos, Information Manager, SSC Esrange
Phone:  +46 980 72024 or +46 70-544 6021

For technical information please contact:

David L. Pierce, Chief, NASA Balloon Programs Office
Phone: +1 757 824 1453

Tomas Hedqvist, Project Manager at Esrange
Tfn: +46 980-720 16 eller +46 70-517 20 16

For scientific information please contact:

Mark Devlin, PI for BLAST, University of Pennsylvania
Phone: +1 267 243 98 65

The Swedish Space Corporation is a complete space industry. We develop, launch and operate space systems as well as perform tests of new aerospace systems.

Space operations and testing are often performed at Esrange, SSC’s operational base in the northern part of Sweden. SSC’s space engineering centre in Solna develops space vehicles.

SpaceRef staff editor.