High Altitude Ballooning Business Builds Station In Tillamook

Oct 15, 2012

An Oregon company is building a new high-altitude ballooning station in Tillamook. The Near Space Corporation is spending $6.9 million to build a factory and ballooning station at the Port of Tillamook Airport Business Park.

Company president, Tim Lachenmeier hopes up to 40 people will be employed when the station opens next Spring.

"The unique facility here at Tillamook is the blimp hanger," Lachenmeier says. "While there's blimp hangers up and down the East and West coasts, they're generally in high density areas. Whereas here at Tillamook we have basically a really rural environment."

The company helps scientists reach the space-like environment above 99 percent of the Earth's atmosphere.

Earlier this year, NASA selected Near Space to conduct commercial suborbital tests. Those involve flying a balloon carrying a glider to the edge of space, then launching the glider to test various instruments.

Unlike a normal balloon, which is at the whim of the wind, the glider can fly back to Tillamook, meaning Near Space doesn't have to spend time and money driving across country, searching for its payload.

Copyright 2012 Oregon Public Broadcasting