Into space in hot air balloons: Top 5 balloons that broke through to the stratosphere

Into space in hot air balloons: Top 5 balloons that broke through to the stratosphere

Perhaps the most amazing direction in which balloons can be used is astronautics. But we can boast of such a past.

Stratostats, although they rarely flew, were a great pride of the country. They were built not only in the USSR, but also abroad. We provide you with the top 5 stratospheric balloons with which you can track the development of the industry.


The loud beginning of stratospheric balloons was laid in the USSR. Aircraft designers and engineers approached the project with trepidation, the analogue of which did not exist yet.

"USSR-" - ready to start!

Stratostat USSR-1 is not the first device of this type, but it is, without a doubt, the pioneer of heavenly records among devices of this type. Back in 1933, the stratosphere went to the stratosphere and rose to a height of 19 thousand meters. The flight was successful, the entire crew was awarded orders.

The apparatus consisted of a gondola, which was made in the form of a ball. The stratospheric balloon was dotted with a variety of measuring devices. The crew had a task - to reach a certain mark, but the pilots also had to take air intake and conduct various studies.

"Osoaviakhim-" - "Sirius" in touch!

A year later, the second stratospheric balloon set off on the way to the stars. The crew wished most of all to break the USSR-1 record. In this case, the dream played a cruel joke with the pilots. Trying to get ahead of the crew of the USSR-1, which had scheduled the next flight, the captain of Osoaviakhim decided to go on a risky winter flight.

At first everything was fine, the crew managed to reach the desired mark of twenty two thousand meters above the ground. But weather conditions and design flaws led to the fact that approaching the ground, "Osoaviakhim" increased the speed of the fall and collapsed.

This incident did not end the era of stratospheric balloons, but the ardor of the population has noticeably diminished.

Volga is next in line

Into space in hot air balloons: Top 5 balloons that broke through to the stratosphere

Piccard Stratostat

In the 20th century, man's thousand-year aspiration to conquer the sky, thanks to the rapid development of technology, acquired an unprecedented scale. Scientists and enthusiasts have built various aircraft in an attempt to achieve record heights and speeds.

Engineers and physicists were attracted by the heights bordering space. The former were fascinated by the solution of a technically complex problem, the latter were interested in studying the properties of the atmosphere, as well as the effect of cosmic radiation on the Earth.

By the early 1930s, flights into the stratosphere - the part of the atmosphere located at altitudes from 11 to 50 kilometers - were impossible due to imperfect technology. Aircraft of that period could not climb so high, and balloons with open baskets did not ensure the survival of the crew due to extremely rarefied air and low temperatures.

A breakthrough in this area was made by the Swiss scientist Auguste Piccard, who designed the world's first stratospheric balloon - a balloon with a sealed aluminum nacelle, in which normal pressure is maintained.

May 27, 1931 Auguste Piccard and his colleague Paul Kipfer made the world's first flight into the stratosphere, taking off near the German city of Augsburg and reaching an altitude of 15785 m.

The flight of Piccard caused a sensation in the scientific world and aroused great interest in the Soviet Union, where at that moment airspace development projects were actively supported at the state level.


In January 1932, the first state meeting on the study of the stratosphere was held in Moscow, and a work plan was adopted, one of the points of which was the construction of a stratospheric balloon, allowing a manned flight to an altitude of 20-25 km.

The project of the first Soviet stratospheric balloon was developed at the Bureau of Special Structures of TsAGI. The gondola was built at the Moscow aircraft plant No. 39 named after Mezhinsky; the balloon shell was made at the capital's Kauchuk plant under the leadership of one of the designers, Konstantin Godunov.

On September 30, 1933, the first Soviet stratospheric balloon, named "USSR-1", took off from a launch pad in the Moscow region and reached an altitude of 19,000 meters. The crew included Ernst Birnbaum, Georgy Prokofiev and Konstantin Godunov - the one who led the creation of the balloon shell.

The crew returned safely to the ground. The height reached at that time was a world record, so the leadership of the USSR did not skimp on awards for the heroes - the participants in the flight, as well as the leaders of the construction of the stratospheric balloon, were awarded the Orders of Lenin.

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