Technology firm IN.Genius is keeping its fingers crossed for its third attempt to send the first Singaporean into the edge of space this month.
The first mission in conjunction with Singapore’s 50th birthday in 2015 was cancelled due to an equipment issue. Meanwhile, the second attempt of the launch was called off in May last year due to safety concerns from “fierce winds” that could jeopardize the balloon.
The latest mission has been set to take place on 26 April around 6 am in Alice Springs, Australia. The identity of the Singaporean astronaut and other details will be announced at a later date.
The astronaut would be strapped in a capsule attached to a high-altitude helium balloon which will ascend 20km above sea level (the Armstrong line). Once it reaches a height of about 25km, the capsule will detach from the balloon and descend back to earth with a parachute.
The founder and director of IN.Genius, Mr Marvyn Lim Seng told TODAY that he is optimistic about his latest launch attempt based on data gathered to date, despite possibilities of unpredictable wind conditions.
In his speech to students at the ISS International School at Paterson Road on Friday (5 April), Mr Lim said they want to conquer this space (20 to 100km above sea level) with their presence because “it is a very valuable virgin land to understand and conquer.”
The project could also save them the costly process of launching rockets or satellites in near space, such as the testing of space equipment like the laser communication technology, as it requires long distances, the environment of space and radiation data, among other factors.
“With stratospheric balloons, you can bring it up to near space whereby you already have the harsh environment of space. You don’t have to break an arm or leg, and you can test your equipment and bring it back (to earth),” he said in an interview.
“A lot of people ask why we do this. The better question is why we care to do this. It is because we want to give back to the nation as I feel that we have been very privileged,” Mr Lim added.
“It is always easy to tell others that they must dare to fail or take risks. What I hope to do is show by our own action, that we’re taking a big risk and champion a change in the mindset of Singaporeans that we as Singaporeans can do it.”