Crew of the Russian expedition set off on a first balloon trip to the North Pole at 06.00 MT on April 12, 2005. The balloon is called Svyataya Rus (Saint Russia).
The hot-air balloon took off the archipelago of Severnaya Zemlya. Many a traveller of the 20th century set their sights on the North Pole, the most unexplored place on earth. They were heading there using skis, toboggans driven by dogs, and motor vehicles. But nobody has ever reached the Pole by flying a hot-air balloon. The crew of the balloon is determined to challenge the elements and conquer the top of the world in 2005.
The crew is composed of fearless enthusiasts being some of the best balloon pilots in Russia who were also trained to survive in extreme environment. The crew includes Stanislav Fedorov, president of the Russian Balloon Society and a leading designer of balloons and airships, and Valentin Efremov, a noted Russian traveller who took part in numerous expeditions in the ice-clad wilderness.
The crew will have to cover more than 1,000 kilometers at an altitude up to 5,000 meters with outboard temperatures reaching –50 degrees Celsius. The crew will communicate with the mainland by means of a satellite telephone. They also expect to do several landings on the drifting ice.
The crew is going to conduct an extensive research program during the mission. A detailed monitoring of the Arctic environment will be carried out. The crew will land the balloon on a few locations lying at various distances from Russia's largest industrial facilities. Specialists will take snow samples at those locations. They are also going to watch the movements of the air in the arctic area. A special part of the research program deals with the study of the functioning of human organism exposed to an extreme environment. Unique data collected by the crew of the Svyataya Rus will be a significant supplement to theory-based information regarding the climate formation.
The mission was in the works for more than 18 months. Experts say the Russian balloon mission has great chances to become a success.