Espionage balloon

An espionage balloon is a balloon used for spying.

During the Cold War, espionage balloons launched by the "Free world" had a secondary psychological warfare capability, carrying propaganda pamphlets and consumer goods (which were supposedly not freely available inside Communist states) that would be released or otherwise delivered onto enemy territories.

The advent of spy satellites, coupled with the end of the Cold War, have rendered espionage balloons obsolete.

Surveillance balloon programs include Project Moby Dick[1] and Project Genetrix[2].

See also


  1. ^ Peebles, Curtis, 1991. The Moby Dick Project: Reconnaissance Balloons over Russia. Smithsonian Books, ISBN 1-56098-025-7
  2. ^ Fowler, Shane (25 July 2017). "Mystery solved: 'Thing in the woods' revealed as CIA spy camera, 55 years later". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 26 July 2017.

External links

History of ballooning

The history of ballooning, both with hot air and gas, spans many centuries. It includes many firsts, including the first human flight, first flight across the English Channel, first flight in North America, and first aircraft related disaster.

History of military ballooning

Balloons were one of the first mechanisms used in air warfare. Their role was originally mainly for reconnaissance purposes. They provided humans with the first available method of elevating themselves well over the battlefield to obtain the proverbial "birds-eye view." They were an early instrument of definitive intelligence collection, and were also particularly useful in the preparation of accurate battlefield maps, before which time this rudimentary craft had led to many a battlefield failure. Incendiary balloons also have a long history.

Hot air balloon

A hot air balloon is a lighter-than-air aircraft consisting of a bag, called an envelope, which contains heated air. Suspended beneath is a gondola or wicker basket (in some long-distance or high-altitude balloons, a capsule), which carries passengers and a source of heat, in most cases an open flame caused by burning liquid propane. The heated air inside the envelope makes it buoyant since it has a lower density than the colder air outside the envelope. As with all aircraft, hot air balloons cannot fly beyond the atmosphere. Unlike gas balloons, the envelope does not have to be sealed at the bottom, since the air near the bottom of the envelope is at the same pressure as the surrounding air. In modern sport balloons the envelope is generally made from nylon fabric and the inlet of the balloon (closest to the burner flame) is made from a fire resistant material such as Nomex. Modern balloons have been made in all kinds of shapes, such as rocket ships and the shapes of various commercial products, though the traditional shape is used for most non-commercial, and many commercial, applications.

The hot air balloon is the first successful human-carrying flight technology. The first untethered manned hot air balloon flight was performed by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes on November 21, 1783, in Paris, France, in a balloon created by the Montgolfier brothers. The first hot-air balloon flown in the Americas was launched from the Walnut Street Jail in Philadelphia on January 9, 1793 by the French aeronaut Jean Pierre Blanchard. Hot air balloons that can be propelled through the air rather than simply drifting with the wind are known as thermal airships.

List of balloon uses

This is a list of uses of balloons


balloon catheter

balloon tamponade

Graphene balloons

small (volume of a few litres)

gas balloon

cluster ballooning

Talking balloon

toy balloon

water balloon


balloon modelling


solar balloon

balloon mail as part of a balloon flight competition or to spread information

balloon helicopter

balloon rocket, demonstration of rocket propulsion

ceiling balloon

decoys accompanying ICBMs in midcourse, see also countermeasure

A vessel for storing nitrous oxide prior to inhalation for use as a recreational drug

medium (volume of tens to thousands of litres)

free flying

high-altitude balloon

hopper balloon

fire balloon for the transport of bombs (in World War II, FUGO-Balloon)

transport of propaganda (in World War II and in the Cold War)

ceiling balloon

weather balloon used with a radiosonde


for carrying advertising signs

to carry a radio antenna

toy balloon

research balloon

Skyhook balloon

superpressure balloon


balloon tires, for vehicles that require low ground pressures

large (volume up to 12,000,000 litres)

free flying

balloon (aircraft)

lifting people, or daring prison escapes, usually with a hot air balloon, Rozière balloon or a gas balloon

airship, a steerable balloon

hybrid airship, which combines characteristics of heavier-than-air (HTA) technology, fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter, and lighter-than-air (LTA), aerostat technology.

research balloon with instrumentation, also to carry telescopes

rockoon, a carrier for rockets.

balloon satellite for space research.

espionage balloon for military reconnaissance

hopper balloon


as manned observation post (before World War II)

barrage balloon

observation balloon for military reconnaissance

positioning atomic bombs for bomb tests in the atmosphere

moored balloon

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