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Australia trials balloons for deployment of sensors to upper atmosphere

Plan Jericho is undertaking a number of advanced sensing activities, including high altitude balloon launches and sub-orbital rocket launches.

The Australian defense ministry has carried out the first of a series of high altitude balloon launch trials, with the first balloon being successfully launched this week from West Wyalong.

The trials test defense’s ability to quickly send sensors and communications equipment into the upper atmosphere carried on a balloon.

Australian defense minister Linda Reynolds CSC said the balloon was launched into the stratosphere to explore the under-utilized altitudes between space and where aircraft generally fly.

“The trial aims to demonstrate Australian designed and developed launch capabilities that can deliver and maintain sensor payloads to an altitude that significantly improves situational awareness over a wide area,” minister Reynolds said.

“Having these high altitude balloons as part of Australia’s sovereign capability means that we could deploy advanced sensors into the atmosphere quickly and cost-effectively, giving our forces comprehensive data in the air, on the ground, or at sea.”

Minister for defense industry Melissa Price said the government’s investments in defense capability are creating new opportunities for local businesses to innovate and take up opportunities in Australia’s space sector.

“Air Force’s partnership with ThunderStruck Space will help boost their capability and give us greater opportunities to access innovative Australian stratospheric launch capabilities,” minister Price said.

The defense ministry noted that the trials are taking place in close consultation with the Civilian Aviation Safety Authority.