The Italian Space Agency (ASI), in cooperation with CNR, would like to develop a balloon launch site at Ny-Ålesund. The polar stratospheric air circulation pattern can make it possible to perform Long Duration Balloon (LDB) Flights. The balloons would circumnavigate the northern Polar Regions collecting data in astrophysics, aeronomy, as well as other atmospheric, cosmic and biological sciences. The location on Svalbard is interesting for LDB flights because of : o easy access and transportation of equipment /material/personnel o well established infrastructures/support organization o the flight would occur over mostly unmanned areas o the recovery of the payload could easily happen on the land Currently two experiments are being built as LDB payloads in anticipation of launching from Ny-Ålesund in 2004 and 2005. These are astro-physics experiments to observe the galactic and cosmic microwave radiation. This facility would accommodate science teams from both Italy and around the world.
The Italian Space Agency (ASI) anticipates launching up to two Pathfinder balloon from Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard in 2003, in the timeframe between end of April and end of June, to prove the air circulation pattern over the pole. These will be 5000 m3 balloons with ARGOS downlink communication and no commanding. The goal is to use the information gained from the Pathfinder data sets to then determine if launching from Ny-Ålesund will be feasible for the LDB payloads.