Press releases

Thales Alenia Space launches MARSBalloon to offer students the chance to fly experiments and test technologies that could one day be destined for Mars

Press releases

Thales Alenia Space launches MARSBalloon to offer students the chance to fly experiments and test technologies that could one day be destined for Mars

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    Bristol, February 20th, 2024 - Thales Alenia Space, a joint-venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), harness students’ curiosity for space, science and life on Mars with the launch of MARSBalloon 2024.

    Led by Thales Alenia Space graduates and apprentices in the UK, MARSBalloon is a hands-on science project for primary and secondary students and shows how exciting and varied career opportunities in space, engineering and science can be - without putting on a space suit.

    Students work together to create experiments to test the response of electronics, materials, plants and even food to the harsh conditions in space. Experiments fit inside a small capsule and fly on the high altitude balloon, rising to an altitude of 30km, more than twice the height of commercial airliners where conditions are very similar to the surface of Mars - including temperatures of -50°C and pressures 1/100th that of sea level.

    This year’s MARSBalloon will also have a competitive element, with prizes awarded for primary and secondary categories for Best Innovation, Best Decoration, Engineers Choice and VIP Judge’s Choice award.


    The deadline for registration is 8th March 2024 with the launch of the balloon in May.

    Teachers can find out more about the MARSBalloon and download the information pack here:

    Key dates for this year’s MARSBalloon:

    • 8th March: Last day for Registration. The process take five minutes and can be done here.
    • 30th April: Deadline for experiment delivery to Thales Alenia Space
    • May / June: MARSBalloon launch (depending on weather conditions

    Ballymacash Primary school in Lisburn, Northern Ireland has already signed up. Primary teacher, Susan Brown, said: “We are so excited to be involved in such an amazing activity. The students can’t wait to start dreaming up their own experiments. We’re looking forward to having our very own MARSBalloon workshop in March - so watch this space to see what the children come up with!”

    Drashti Shah, Thales Alenia Space Engineer and MARSBalloon Project Manager, said: “We are delighted to have launched MARSBalloon 2024. We had a record number of participants last year, flying over 200 experiments into the stratosphere, and this year we have changed the dates to allow more schools to get involved. It is a fantastic fun, free of charge that really gives young student experience of deigning their own experiments and first-hand experience learning more about space, widening their future career horizons”

    Visit to sign up.


    Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of approximately 2.2 billion euros in 2022 and has around 8,500 employees in 10 countries with 17 sites in Europe and a plant in the US.


    Jill Hutchinson
    Tel. : +44 (0) 7854 959 805