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Near Space Test flight at Spaceport Snowdonia

Near Space Test Launch

This week sees the latest balloon test launch by Wales-based B2Space – aiming to demonstrate the feasibility of Spaceport Snowdonia

Sponsored by the UKSA (Space Agency), Spaceport Snowdonia has joined forces with Newport-based B2Space to release their commercial Near Space platform, with four different experiments on board to perform different missions in the upper atmosphere.

This will be the final demonstrator of a feasibility study into using Llanbedr Airfield as a launch site for their balloon operations.

B2Space co-founder Victor Montero said: “This launch represent a major step forward for us and the industry; we’ll be demonstrating the commercial attraction of our Near Space testing services, and additionally we’ll demonstrate the feasibility to operate from Spaceport Snowdonia.”

B2Space has mastered the high-altitude operations using stratospheric balloons, developing two innovative solutions.

  • a small satellite launcher known as a rockoon, where the rocket is carried into the upper atmosphere by a gas-filled balloon, then separated and ignited.
  • Near Space testing services, sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA), a test bench platform has been developed, to be lifted by the stratospheric balloon up to 40km of altitude to perform multiple tests in conditions similar to space operations.

Victor added: “The four companies, which rely on our Near Space platform, will perform different experiments and missions that emulate the future working environment they will have in space – advancing their technology and saving costs with this B2Space flexible system. Additionally, this week we will be performing some bigger ground tests under the umbrella of the ESA.”

Snowdonia Aerospace Centre (SAC) at Llanbedr is part of the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone. SAC CEO Lee Paul said: “We’ve been working with Victor and his team since 2017 to make this a reality. We look forward to facilitating their operations and highlighting the advantages and benefits of operating from Spaceport Snowdonia. The continued development of the site will contribute massively to the economy of the region.”

The spectacular Snowdonia Aerospace Centre is located at Llanbedr, and is part of the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone. It is one of eight Enterprise Zones across Wales that have been established by the Welsh Government to create the best conditions for businesses to thrive, and has been building popularity over the past five years. B2Space started balloon launches from within the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone in 2018.

Cllr Gareth Thomas, who leads on Economic Development for Gwynedd Council said: “This launch marks an important step in the development of space related activities at Llanbedr Airfield, which could lead to the revitalisation of the site, and the creation of good quality science and engineering jobs for our young people over the years to come.”