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Near Space in Tillamook

Pete Springer/OPB

Felix Baumgartner’s incredible near space jump garnered the world’s attention this week. But meanwhile, a small Oregon company that makes the kind of equipment used by Baumgartner has been quietly working to expand its high altitude balloon facility.

Tim Lachenmeier, the president of the Tillamook-based Near Space Corporation, says most of the research the company does is for NASA, government agencies, and universities. All of the work is related to near space (that’s the area above 99 percent of the earth’s atmosphere or, put another way, about 24 miles away). The company has contributed to NASA’s exploration of Mars and has built an “aerobot envelope” designed to fly in the atmosphere on Titan, the biggest of Saturn’s moons.

Another thing that distinguishes the Oregon company is its gliders, which return the data obtained in near space directly back to Tillamook, rather than capsules that require retrieval. Lachenmeier says they are building a new manufacturing facility that should be complete in February.

What questions do you have about near space research and technology?

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