An Update on the Bloostar Launch System

Bloostar balloon launch system (Credit: zero2infinity)
Bloostar balloon launch system (Credit: zero2infinity)

José Mariano López Urdiales, founder and CEO of the Spanish startup zero2infinity, gave a presentation on Thursday about the company’s Bloostar balloon-launched smallsat rocket during the International Astronautical Conference in Jerusalem.

Mark Schaffer ‏(@mgschaffer), a senior Senior Aerospace Engineer at SpaceWorks Enterprises, provided the following details via Twitter.
  • Rocket lifted by balloon to 20 km altitude for launch
  • Balloon launched from boat off Canary Islands at  27 degrees latitude
  • Payloads: 125kg to 400km @ 27 degrees low Earth orbit, 75kg to 600 km sun synchronous orbit
  • 3-stage rocket with all engines using LOX/CH4
  • 1st stage has 6 15kN LOX/LCH4 engines. 2nd & 3rd stages use same 2kN LOX/LCH4 engine; 6 engines on 2nd stage, 1 engine on 3rd
  • Balloon to be used as communications relay after rocket release
  • First test flight of orbital vehicle Q2 2018, first commercial flights after 4th test flight
  • Developing upper stage first
  • Will offer suborbital flights with 75 kg to 180km by Q4 2016
  • Expects $4.0M USD per launch, lower for block buy
  • Launch cost will be half price of competitors
  • Program has 25 investors from Hong Kong, France, Germany and Spain
  • Funding available to reach initial operations
  • €198M in letters of intent from customers across 7 countries.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Another 1940’s idea returns!

    Encyclopedia Astronautica

    BTW Spaceport America would be the ideal location given the extensive research balloon experience NMSU’s Physcial Science Laboratory has.

  • Larry J

    Balloons large enough to lift that big a payload to 20 km don’t come cheap, especially if they’re planning on using helium. Perhaps they plan on using hydrogen instead. Regardless, launching really large high-altitude balloons is not only expensive, it’s pretty tricky stuff. The balloon materials are very thin and easy to tear. They also have definite wind restrictions that can make for repeated launch delays.

  • Vladislaw

    Payloads: 125kg to 400km at 4 million that is not half the price. Rocket Labs is pricing theirs at 4.9 million for 150kg

  • Pete Zaitcev

    Quite so. In this case, however, the outfit running the project has made a name for themselves launching high-altitude balloons. So the balloon part is a better known challenge for them.

  • mzungu

    Launching a satellite with the solar-panel unfurled in the plane of the trust axis? Are they looking to have Caterpillar to build those attachment joints? I hope they are better at launching balloons than drawing up these outlandish pictures….

  • mfck

    Where are the tanks?!

  • Miguel Iturmendi

    This is not something new for them, they have ran several successful flights.
    I guess you were expecting a blue print for the press and their competitors?

  • Aerospike

    They are using torus shaped tanks, what you see (other than the engines) are the tanks!

  • patb2009

    So three stages plus a balloon plus a barge. So you really have 5 stages. If something goes wrong with the barge, the mission si scrubbed. If something goes wrong with the Balloon, the mission is lost. Then 3 stages… Balloon carry to 65,000 feet? That’s some hour or so transit, a long time for boiloff, and battery chill.

  • mzungu

    Ballon flights are different than rocket/LV development. The graphics showing an PV panel unfurled and exposed, shows so limited knowledge on how to take care of a satellite during lauch.

    I am not even getting into how that going to predict where the ballon going to be through the accent/drift, and how they going match that to the orbit a customer wants….that seems to be another can of worms.

  • mfck

    It looks like too little volume to me, but IANARS.

  • Aerospike

    Me neither, but even if I were one, I wouldn’t base my calculations off of some marketing CGI 😉

  • Kam Chuanhui

    The concept reminded me of one of the original X-Prize competitors.