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McCarthy, Branson, and Lindstrand

Rory McCarthy
Richard Branson
Per Lindstrand


Marrakech, Morocco (approximately 31 degrees latitude)


Time of Year: Optimal meteorological conditions occur from November 1 to March 1 when the jet stream winds, the primary source of propulsion for the balloon, blow in a west to east direction.

Altitude: The balloon will travel within the jet stream at an average altitude of 33,000 feet.

Speed: The jet stream moves at a ground speed of up to 250 miles per hour, with an average speed of 70 miles per hour.

Outside Air Temperature: Minus 65 degrees Fahrenheit

Flight Duration: Assuming the flight trajectory moves in a straight west to east direction, and given that the distance around the earth at 31 degrees latitude is approximately 20,000 miles, the balloon could circumnavigate the earth in 12 days. However, the likelihood of flying in a direct west-east weather pattern, without moving north or south, is slim. Therefore, the flight could take as long as 21 days.

The Balloon

computer-generated wireframe rendering of balloon

Design: The balloon is a De Rozier, which was a system designed by Jean Pilatre De Rozier of France in 1789. It utilizes both helium and hot air. No one has ever flown a De Rozier balloon of this size under these altitude and flight duration conditions.

Height: 206.64 feet or 63 meters
Diameter: 127.92 feet or 39 meters
Capacity: 32,000 cubic meters or 1.1 million cubic feet

Color: White
Registration: G-GLBL
Fabric: The balloon envelope is made from a high tenacity polyamide fabric coated with a polyurethane compound, and an outer layer of aluminised melinex industrial film. This new laminated fabric has increased protection from ultraviolet light and cuts down on gas leakage.

The Capsule

schematic of interior of capsuleexterior of capsule under preparation

Design: Designed by Per Lindstrand, the capsule is pressurized to an equivalent interior atmospheric pressure of 8,000 feet. It is constructed of aluminum. There are two propane-powered engines driving compressors which maintain the inside pressure. The capsule is a bi-level construction. The lower level serves as the sleeping quarters, toilet facility, storage space, and access hatch. The upper level is the piloting center with balloon control panels, navigation, and communications equipment.

Fuel: Six fuel tanks are mounted outside the capsule. They contain the propane gas that will power the balloon burners.
Height: 10.8 feet
Diameter: 9.5 feet
Weight: 4,400 pounds
Fuel Cylinders: 2,060 pounds


Total Weight: 12 tons or 25,000 pounds
Total Estimated Lift at Launch: 13.5 tons of lift
Total Estimated Lift at Float Altitude: 12 tons


balloon instrument panel

Inmarsat Standard C: Utilizing standard Global Positioning Satellite Systems, this unit provides real-time tracking of the balloon's exact position and speed. This two-way satellite communications system also enables data transfer and E-mail between the capsule and the ground.

Inmarsat Standard M Satellite Phone: Allows for voice communication between the capsule and the ground.

HF Radio: With an estimated 6,000 mile range, this system has an air traffic control contact over the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

VHF Radio: With a range of 200 miles this communications system allows for air-to-air and air-to-ground communication. It also is the means for Air Traffic Control communication in the United States and Europe.

Atmospheric Research

Ozone instruments will be taken along to measure the presence of halocarbons in the atmosphere.

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