Monday, May 21, 2012

Intrepid Launch Date Uncertain Due to Helium Shortage

We’ve come up against an unusual problem in getting our Civil War replica gas balloon off the ground!  The increasing severity of the global helium shortage has put our planned launch of July 4 at risk.

This historic project, announced earlier in the year, has won the backing of Ken Burns, Sir Richard Branson, the Smithsonian and the Civil War Trust. It’s been called one of the most intriguing events planned during the War’s 150th anniversary remembrance. When operating, the balloon will soar up to 300 feet above Western New York with a pilot and passengers. And now the project may literally have trouble getting off the ground on time, since the Museum is unable to find a helium supplier at any cost, anywhere in the U.S.

We’re going public with this challenge today, in hopes of finding a white knight. We’re trying to be resourceful, having been in contact with the Fermi National Lab in Illinois, which had used the gas for cooling its supercollider; and with members of Congress regarding tapping the U.S. reserve. We remain hopeful!

Meanwhile, balloon construction continues – it’s being painted by our muralist Todd Price in Southern Virginia  at the moment.

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