Often called the “Upper Atmosphere”, Near Space is the ideal region for surveillance and some communications satellites. This area is above where commercial airliners fly, but below the orbit of satellites, and is also the target for craft such as high-altitude balloons, non-rigid airships, and sounding rockets. Near Space is also known as the region in which the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis are formed.
At the upper limit of Near Space is the Karman Line, at the 100 km mark, which is the divisor between the Earth’s atmosphere and “Outer Space”. It was from this region that Felix Baumgartner set several World Records for jumping from an altitude of 128,000 ft. and landing safely after freefalling for 4 minutes 19 seconds on October 14th, 2012.
Research in Near Space began in the 1930’s with both manned and unmanned flights, often achieved through the use of balloons. Though interest had tapered off for some years, there has been a recent renewed interest in Near Space due to the emerging commercial spaceflight.
65,000 – 350,000 ft. (20 – 100 km)
Stratosphere, Mesosphere, and Thermosphere