Local firm not allowed to launch space balloon flight from S'pore for safety reasons

Local firm not allowed to launch space balloon flight from S'pore for safety reasons

SINGAPORE - A local company's plan to launch a space balloon with a Singaporean on board into near space from Singapore will have to be shelved, after the CAAS decided not to allow the launch from here for safety reasons.

According to The Straits Times, IN.Genius had wanted to launch the space balloon into near space on National Day.

In a statement today, CAAS said that although the idea was commendable, there were significant safety and operational concerns.

"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, as well as to lives and property on the ground," CAAS said.

CAAS also stressed that as space balloons have limited steering capability, move at a relatively slow speed, and are highly affected by environmental conditions, they may drift from their desired flight path and pose 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, which would require closure of the affected airspace and adversely affect many flights and passengers," CAAS said.

The authority also explained that operating the balloon would entail jettisoning up to 500kg of ballast, which poses a significant danger to persons and property on the ground.

In other countries, space balloon flights were carried out in specially designated facilities far away from civilian air traffic and populated areas.

CAAS added that its position had been conveyed to IN.Genius in late 2013.

seanyap@sph.com.sg

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