Worldwide Launch Operations since 1991

From Pole to Pole ISTAR has successfully launched over 50 heavy lift stratospheric balloons and has trained other companies in launch operations.

Stratospheric Ballooning

Stratospheric ballooning provides cost effective access to near-space. At a fraction of the cost of a rocket, stratospheric balloons take your experiment into Near Space.

Take your Experiment to the Stratosphere

Stratopheric balloons are the cost effective method to reach the stratosphere, giving you 24/7 experimental exposure for over 40 days!

International Science Technology And Research (ISTAR)

The use of stratospheric balloons not only provides a cost effective access to near-space but it is just fun!  With a rapid turnaround time from the launch of the balloon to recovery operations no other resource offers as much of a return for the financial investment as do high altitude balloons.  For the past 27 years, ISTAR has been successfully launching stratospheric balloons from locations around the globe including both polar regions . 

ISTAR began supporting stratospheric science research programs using balloons in 1991 while managing the National Science Foundation field office in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. The management of the NSF field office in Greenland was through the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

In comparison to rocket placed satellites, balloon carried instruments reach near space at a fraction of the cost. Stratospheric balloons can be launched, tracked, and terminated in a safe location with the experiment being recovered to again be launched within a short turn around time.  Of course balloons and rockets are two completely different vehicle for exploration.  Balloons "float" in Near Space - The region of Earth's atmosphere that lies between 20 and 100 km (65,000 and 328,000 feet) above sea level encompassing the stratosphere, mesosphere, and lower thermosphere for around 40 days for a zero pressure balloon and over 100 days for a super pressure balloon. 

So, an end user, the client, needs their experiment or test platform to be carried up to 38km and stay floating in Near Space the entire process can take place in 6 months or less. 

One of the attractive capability ISTAR presents is flexibility to launch from nearly any location around the globe.  We don't require you to come to our facility in Sisters, Oregon ( although it is one of the nicest environments to enjoy), but ISTAR will come to you or your place of choice for your balloon launch.

Scientific Research Support

ISTAR has been in direct support of science research since 1988 starting in Antarctica. The support included the development of research stations, field camp operations, telemetry systems, setting up ground-based experiments and Long Duration Balloon development in the remote Polar Regions. Science support is the primary interest of ISTAR If your specific required service is not listed, please contact The ISTAR Group for additional service opportunities.

Investigations using balloons

Solar / Fuel Cell technology

We typically power our payloads using a solar array, charge controllers and batteries during the summer months with the 24 hours of sunlight high above the arctic circle. For the winter night flights we are investigating options such as fuel cell technology as batteries become a very heavy payload component. The extended periods of solar gain on solar cells offer a perfect testing environment in solar cell development.

Telemetry communication systems 

Line of Sight and Over the Horizon communication is a critical in the operations for commanding and receiving data. With the temperature extremes and duration of that exposure, testing telemetry systems is optimal in the Near Space to command center link.

Satellite components 

With the continual growth of satellite communications, testing components in a Near Space environment provides a cost effective vehicle for tests.

The ISTAR Group offers a wide range of capabilities and services including:

Field Operations - 

Since the beginning of ISTAR, our team has been involved in setting up field camps in remote locations such as the Siple Coast, Concordia Station, and Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica, the center of the Greenland Ice Sheet, North Slope of the Brooks Range Alaska, Brazil, Norway and the logistical concerns to safely get into and out of the field.

Steven Peterzén at Concordia Station Antarctica working on the BRAIN experiment. ISTAR designed the instrument stand and heating system to maintain the instrument at 18⁰ C.  The BRAIN experiment was an Italian/French collaboration. ISTAR was contracted by the University of Rome La Sapienza on this project.

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