NT - Airspace Change Proposal for HIBAL Sample Return Capsule drop from stratospheric balloon

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    Open consultation
    4 days remaining
    Start 20/03/2023
    AEDT 09:00
    End 03/04/2023
    AEST 17:00

    Submit feedback to

    Assoc. Prof. Ravi  Sood
    University of NSW Canberra

    Temporary Restricted Area (TRA) is being proposed in support of an aerodynamic suitability test.



    The issue

    The proposed airspace change is defined in the Attachment: "AvSEF Consultation - Details of Proposed TRA". The key aspects of the drop-test project, including the safety consideration in (a) the airspace and (b) on the ground are contained in the Attachment: "AvSEF Drop Test of Sample Return Capsule".

    The window for the scientific experiment is 1 April to 15 May 2023, subject to approval from CASA and Airservices Australia.

    We invite advice and feedback from the aviation community who may be affected by the changed airspace.


    A drop test of a space capsule from a stratospheric balloon is proposed. The balloon flight will be launched from Alice Springs airport and will last up to seven hours. When the balloon has floated to an area pre-selected for optimum safety, the capsule will be released from a height of 39-40km to fall (ballistic) towards earth. The aerodynamic stability of the capsule will be tested during the fall.

    We are seeking feedback on a proposed TRA in the drop-zone to ensure safety of airspace users.



    Following approval from Air Traffic Control (ATC), the Sample Return Capsule will be released from the balloon at 39-40km altitude. It will be in free-fall till it reaches 16 km altitude, when it will separate into three bodies. The main instrument, weighing 24kg will then come down to earth on a parachute. The two heat shields, weighing 18kg and 5kg respectively, will continue in free-fall to earth. Approval will be sought from ATC to terminate the balloon flight, when the remaining payload will descend to earth on a parachute. Helium gas from the balloon will be released for its descent to earth.


    • Lateral Limits: Within the area bounded by 1341500E 231000S - 1353900E 231000S - 1353900E 242300S - 1344000E 242300S - 1341500E 233000S - 1341500E 231000S
    • Vertical Limits: Surface to Unlimited
    • Controlling Authority: Airservices Australia
    • TRA activation window: 0830-1300 ACST on the day of the drop test balloon flight. The launch window is from 1 April 2023 to 15 May 2023. The flight date will be confirmed via a NOTAM at 1200 ACST on the day previous to the balloon flight.
    • Operators should monitor YBBB FIR NOTAMs for TRA activations. TRA NOTAMs will be cancelled the day before if a launch is scrubbed, or as soon as possible on the day of a late scrub or successful launch.
    • Impacted ATS routes: J64, T11, W344, A576 (NB impact on A576 is minimal, operators should plan normally and Airservices Australia will manage tactically as required)
    • Impacted VFR routes: VFR routes 2 and 3 between YBAS and Jervois Station impacted from Mount Benstead VFR reporting point to Jervois Station
    • Impacted aerodromes: Numery, The Garden, Ross River


    image depicting TRA-Hibal
    En route chart high
    image depicting TRA-Hibal
    En route chart low
    image depicting TRA-Hibal
    VFR Tracking through TRA-Hibal
    image depicting TRA-Hibal
    Terminal Area Chart
    image depicting TRA-Hibal
    YBAS visual terminal chart


    Submitted by

    Assoc. Prof. Ravi Sood
    University of NSW Canberra

    Relevant documentation

    15 March 2023
    17 March 2023