Purpose of the flight and payload description
The objective of the flight was to conduct a drop test of the Sample Return Capsule (SRC) a Hayabusa-type capsule to evaluate its aerodynamic stability, parachute release, canopy opening, and deceleration performance in the transonic and low speeds regimes. The capsule will subsequently be flown on JAXA's Martian Moons Exploration space mission.
The SRC was meant to be released from a stratospheric balloon at an altitude of between 39 and 40 kilometers. It will be in free-fall till it reaches 16 km of altitude when it will separate into three bodies as we can see in the scheme at left. 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. All the operations will be conducted under management and supervision of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia.
Details of the balloon flight
Balloon launched on: 5/11/2023 at 22:09 UTC
Launch site: Australian Balloon Launching Station, Alice Springs, Australia
Balloon launched by: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon model B300 300.000 m3
Flight identification number: B23-02
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 5/12/2023 at 5:05 utc
Balloon flight duration (F: time at float only, otherwise total flight time in d:days / h:hours or m:minutes - ): 7 h
Landing site: In Queensland, Australia
The balloon was launched from the Alice Springs Airpórt, at 22:09 UTC on May 11, 2023. After a nominal ascent, it reached the test altitude of 39 kilometers in about two hours. After another two hours of leveled flight to reach the drop area assigned by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia over the Simpson Desert, at 1:55 UTC on May 12, the capsule was jettisoned from the gondola and landed in an area about 270 km east of Alice Springs.
After completion of the test, the balloon continued in flight for more than 3 hours until at 5:05 UTC the rest of the on-board equipment was separated by radio command and descended about 500 km east of Alice Springs, in Queensland.
Both, the capsule and the rest of the hardware were recovered undamaged.