Iwatani Giken Co., Ltd.
Iwatani Giken, aiming for a “balloon-based space excursion,” successfully flew at a target altitude of 100m in a manned flight test.
A passenger technology development start-up company that allows anyone to experience the “gateway to space” in a balloon
Passenger technology development company Iwatani Giken (Headquarters: Sapporo City, Hokkaido; CEO: Keisuke Iwatani), aiming for a “balloon space excursion”, announced on November 18, 2022 at a large-scale farm in Makubetsu Town, Hokkaido. We conducted a manned flight test using a self-developed balloon, and successfully flew up to 102.3m, exceeding the target altitude of 100m.
At Iwatani Giken, starting with the success of the first manned mooring flight test at a target altitude of 30m in Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture on February 26, 2022, we have repeated mooring flight training at test sites in and outside Hokkaido almost every month. On September 12, 2022, a successful (non-tethered) free flight test at an altitude of 30m at “Apple Port Yoichi” in Yoichi Town, Hokkaido. We confirmed that sufficient safety was ensured, and proceeded to the target altitude of 100m this time.
Since the manned flight test in February of this year, a total of more than 30 staff members have boarded the test cabin, conducting flight training and collecting and accumulating demonstration data. After the success of the 100m free flight test this time, we are planning a 500m free flight test in the middle of next month. A free flight test to an altitude of 4,000m is scheduled to be conducted by next spring. [Image 2
■ Outline of 100m free flight test
1. Reaching an altitude of 100m above the ground: Verification of whether or not it is possible to safely reach the altitude target using a manned gas balloon manufactured in-house in free flight without connection to the ground.
2. Verification of flight capability: Verification of predicted values and measured values
3. Verification of balloon control: Evaluation of balloon control mechanism [detail]
After arriving at the test site at 4:00 am, the test equipment was deployed immediately. After the filling of helium gas is completed, air current observation is carried out using a pilot balloon (a balloon that measures wind speed and direction).
Next, an unmanned flight test was conducted to verify safety, and equipment was checked.
A test pilot boarded after 8:00 am. Conducted manned flight. Exceeding the target altitude of 100m in this experiment, when it reached 102.3m, it descended and made a soft landing. After that, a total of three flight tests were conducted.
1. Reachability to 100m above ground level:
Number of tests: 3 unmanned tests, 3 manned tests
Maximum altitude reached: unmanned test 94.2m, manned test 102.3m 2. Verification of flight capability: (illustration)
Actual values showed roughly the same trend as trial calculation values. Based on the following 3., actual measurement of discharge capacity of the solenoid valve, we expect to further improve the accuracy of prediction of changes over time and improve performance. 3. Validation of balloon control:
It has become possible to predict the vertical motion of the aircraft in advance with a certain degree of accuracy.
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Name: Iwatani Giken Co., Ltd.
Representative: Keisuke Iwaya, President and Representative Director Location: 1-30 Kita 16 Nishi 4-chome, Kita-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido Business overview: Iwatani Giken is a passenger technology development company that develops and manufactures high-altitude gas balloons and airtight cabins for travel, aiming for “space travel from NearSpace” using balloons.
Details about this release: