Space Agencies say “I’m In”

Daniel Levesque from the Canadian Space Agency was the featured guest speaker at the Timmins Economic Development Corporation’s Annual General Meeting on September 19. He gave a fascinating talk about the Stratospheric Balloon Base at our airport. It was built in 2012 as a joint venture of the Canadian and French Space Agencies. After a coast-to-coast search for the perfect location, they chose Timmins to build their base. Timmins had a lot going for it for the Space Agencies – they needed a location that was fairly far north, but that could also provide technical and other services to the scientists visiting here each year. Timmins also has a supportive city government, a bilingual population, clear skies, little pollution and an airport that is very collaborative.

The purpose of the Balloon Base is to provide scientists with a relatively fast, inexpensive (compared to satellite launches) way to conduct experiments in space. The balloons can be 330m tall (about 1,000 feet) and go up about 42 km ( 26 miles) into the atmosphere. During the six week launch season this year, more than 100 scientists came to Timmins to monitor their experiments. There will be eight launches by the time the 2014 season is over, including15 experiments from all over the world.


  • The Timmins Fur Council has been hired to retrieve the balloons after they come back down from space. Scientists can then analyze the data collected in the gondola over the course of the flight.
  • Space agencies from all over the world are requesting room on the balloons for their experimental payloads, so the Base has become busier than anticipated.
  • The Space Agencies lease the Base buildings from the City of Timmins, which has already recouped its $3.4M investment.
  • The balloons can carry a payload of up to 1.1 tons.
  • This project contributes to “industrial tourism” in our community, because 6 weeks’ worth of visiting scientist makes a huge economic impact in our city 🙂
  • The fabulous photo we used on the story slider is courtesy of Karina Douglas, via the Weather Network.