The Canadian and French Space Agencies will be in Timmins for the long haul.
Both agencies signed a letter of intent with the City of Timmins to stay set up at the Victor M. Power Airport past the originally contracted 2024 end date. President of the Canadian Agency Sylvain Laporte says both agencies see the value in using Timmins as a stratosphere balloon launching base and thinks 2024 will not give them enough time to do all the work they want to complete.
Both space agencies originally picked Timmins as the base because it is at “mid-latitude”. Laporte says this means Timmins isn’t placed too far north or too far south. He says the south is bad because of the dense population. “We are flying at very high altitudes, and we want to make sure everyone stays safe.” Laporte adds that “Timmins is also good from the point of view of us being able to measure different chemical particles in the stratosphere that would not be present either further south or north.”
Laporte says as of now there is no end date, the letter is just to stay in Timmins for the long-term. “At some point, someone is going to get a document with a date on it, but that could be two or three years from now.” He says that is less important than the letter of intent. “The fact that there is no date is actually a good thing because if there was a date then it wouldn’t be that long term.”
Laporte says Timmins also have everything that is needed in a base city. He says the partnership with the city and the airport is fantastic, as well as the number of amenities available. “We’ve brought over 150 folks different folks to Timmins over the 2018 campaign.” He says “these folks are looking for lodging, places to eat, some are here for many weeks and looking for leisure activities and Timmins provides the whole package for that.”
Both space agencies intend to expand the range of balloons used to include small, lightweight, expandable balloons to demonstrate new technologies.
The city says this is great for the city because both space agencies are spending tourism dollars every time the scientists arrive. It says it fills up the hotels for that period of times during the launches, as well as the restaurants and the rest of the service industry.
Timmins adds that it’s also a great opportunity for local organizations like Science Timmins and the school districts being able to go out and learn from these launches.