For Safety Reasons, Space Balloon Flight Cannot Be Launched from Singapore
09 January 2015
Arising from media interest, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) confirms that it had been approached by a local company, IN.Genius, which is developing plans to launch a space balloon with a Singaporean on board into near space. While the idea is commendable, CAAS would like to highlight that there are significant safety and operational concerns if the space balloon were to be launched from Singapore, and hence cannot allow it. This position was conveyed to IN.Genius in late 2013.
Given the high density of air traffic in our skies and of the populace, space balloon flights cannot be launched from Singapore due to safety risks to aircraft in the Singapore Flight Information Region (FIR), as well as to lives and property on the ground.
A space balloon has limited steering capability, moves at a relatively slow speed, and is highly affected by environmental conditions such as winds. As such, it may drift from its desired flight path. As the balloon cannot be steered, its flight poses a safety risk to other aircraft. To maintain a safety buffer, aircraft will have to be diverted away from a large zone around the balloon’s flight path. This will require closure of the affected airspace for prolonged periods, causing severe disruption to civilian air traffic. Hundreds of flights and hundreds of thousands of passengers could be adversely affected.
The operation of the balloon also entails the jettisoning of up to 500kg of ballast. This poses a significant danger to persons and property on the ground.
In other countries where space balloon flights have been tried, they are carried out in specially designated facilities far away from civilian air traffic and populated areas.1
1 For example, the Red Bull Stratos mission was launched from a desert in Roswell, New Mexico, USA.
About the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS)
The mission of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) is to grow a safe, vibrant air hub and civil aviation system, making a key contribution to Singapore's success. CAAS' roles are to oversee and promote safety in the aviation industry, develop the air hub and aviation industry, provide air navigation services, provide aviation training for human resource development, and contribute to the development of international civil aviation.
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