[Via Satellite 10-16-2014] Spain-based Zero2infiniti has unveiled a hybrid balloon-rocket launch system intended to serve the small satellite market and has signed customers totaling more than $200 million in sales, according to the company. Dubbed Bloostar, the “rockoon” uses balloons in lieu of a first stage, not firing any engines until passing through 99 percent of the atmosphere.
Zero2infiniti has been carrying payloads using high altitude balloons since 2009. Last month the company fired a test version of a pressure-fed light hydrocarbon-oxygen engine with satisfactory results. The first rockoon launch is currently slated for 2017.
“We have been working on the idea for bloostar for years. Now the technology on both the satellite and launch vehicle sides is mature enough to make it happen. Many new successful companies have business plans based on nanosatellites, like Skybox Imaging, but the dedicated launcher that they would need, doesn’t exist yet. The launch industry needs to be transformed and adapt to the real necessity of providing small payloads with the flexibility to pick their own orbit and their launch date,” said José Mariano López-Urdiales, CEO and founder of zero2infinity.
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