History Solis Nebula Envol à Meudon Atelier fabrication Home wokipi-aerostation


The History of Ballooning really began in the late eighteenth century. The first experiments of flights with hot air balloonl have been conducted in the presence of King John V of Portugal, in August 1709, by a Brazilian priest, Bartolomeu Lourenço de Gusmão. The balloon constructed with paper would reach a height of 4 meters. Then, the Montgolfier brothers made their first tests with a balloon of paper full of hot air in 1782.

In the family of balloons, the solar balloon also functions as a hot-air-balloon very small but that does not burner or other heat source except that provided by the sun.

Like other balloons, the solar balloon is hovering through buoyancy. Solar energy is free and important. Simply convert solar radiation into infrared radiation.

Therefore, the envelope of the balloons must be absolutely black to capture heat from solar radiation.

It uses a black polyethylene film thin enough, with a thickness of 15 to 20 microns. A thickness of 30 microns or more gave the envelope a mass too large for satisfactory performance.

Left photo: balloon solar Emmanuel Laurent (Envol in Meudon)
Right picture: solar balloon Christophe Praturlon, it installs a device for aerial photography
Wokipi report about his actvity the solar balloon

For balloons small, black garbage bags are often used. For larger balloons, using a large roll of polyethylene film to limit the amount of connections to be made between the panels which constitute the widths. For the connection of length may use tape or heat-welding.
Photos above: after cutting them and their assembly in thermal stripper (thermo-welding) we verified in any interior holes, leaks and bad welds by inflating the balloon with a fan. Then this is the first flight outside. Photo right: solar penguin of Joel Goupil

In 1971 Dominic Michaelis, an English engineer, is betting that a balloon can fly only with solar energy.

It creates a first structure of 1 m3 with an envelope (transparent to the outside, black inside). The results are good: the temperature difference is about 27 ° C which corresponds to a surge of more than 100 grams per m3.

He realizes a balloon of 10 m in diameter that can already lift his son (30 kg).
Photo left: human balloon ascent solar

Since 1977, CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales) has developed the MIR balloon (balloon infrared) for scientific flights of long duration in the stratosphere.
(right photo: balloon MIR - CNES)

MIR uses the principle of the balloon. It is elevated by hot air. Its envelope is heated during the day by the sun, allowing it to climb up to 30 km altitude and at night by infrared radiation from Earth. Although small, the lift generated by the greenhouse effect then suffices to stabilize the balloon about 20 km. Capable of carrying up to 50 kg payload, the aerostat has the originality to oscillate continuously at 2 altitudes for 2 to 3 weeks. It is particularly interesting to study the stratosphere.
After seeing invented a balloon inflated with water vapor, Jean-Paul Domen in 1996 patented a solar balloon entertainment.

It makes a first non-captive flight over a distance of 300m from a solar balloon diameter of 16m.

In 98 years, Medellin (Colombia), Alejandro Uribe wants to change the tradition of balloons of paper using the sun to heat them
Initially, he manufactures solar balloons in black polyethylene. Then he uses polyethylene color as well as non-symmetrical shapes. (Pictured right)

December 99, it inflates a structure 135m long made with 250 kg of polyethylene and 17 km from tape. The audience is large, the press and television are also present. It is the largest solar balloon ever built.
Since 2001, the month of December, Alejandro organizes "Fiesta del Globo Solar. (Video above left)

In 2001, Laurent Besset, French reference for solar balloon, invented a platinum electronic control altitude and performs five free flights in Mauritania.

To understand everything about the solar balloon, we recommend to see her website: ballonsolaire

NASA is studying the possibility of using solar balloons for exploration of Mars and even Jupiter, Saturn and its moon Titan.

Photo right and left: gathering and balloon flights solar Meudon July 2006