Rockzip Highballoon’s mission “is to improve life on Earth by giving people a new angle from which to solve difficult problems.” How are they proposing to do give people that new angle? By simply launching a “highballoon” about 75,000 ft or a little over 14 miles high. That’s right, this isn’t about satellites, but about balloons that might do work only satellites, and maybe spy planes, have done before.
Rockzip brings up cheap, wireless internet connectivity (a la Google’s Project Loon) as one use for their balloons. Another is to use the balloons as spacecraft testbeds, which allows students, researchers, corporations and the like to test components and systems in near space very inexpensively (at least that’s one of Rockzip’s goals). They also mention the civil application of hurricane tracking. There are many other missions the balloons could be used for too. Rockzip view their “launch” platform in the way some people view smallsats–so cheap that the system might proliferate and iterate quickly.
They have two different types of highballoons that they are designing: a “Pro Highballoon” with a payload capacity of 1 lb and a max altitude of 30,000 ft; or a “Full Size Beta Highballoon” with a payload capacity of 6 lbs and max altitude of 75,000 ft. The “Full Size Beta” will fly nearly twice as long as the “Pro.” The money they’re asking for on Kickstarter, $15,000, will be used to get these balloons to “students and innovators.”
So, yes, Rockzip are attempting to kickstart their project by trying to raise the $15,000 through Kickstarter. Your next question, I’m sure, is about the different pledge levels for this project. The answer to that question is that, yes, there are many, many pledge levels. You can pledge a minimum of $1, but that won’t get you anything other than the satisfaction of contributing to something worthwhile. If you kick in another $4, you’ll be put on the Rockzip Highballoon Wall of Fame website.
There are many other levels, with the $10,000 pledge giving “Round the World Launch Partner” status to the donor. What does that mean? Go to the Rockzip Kickstarter page to find out. You’ve probably been wanting to donate to something like this, anyway. Donate, help kids learn about balloons and space, and feel smug. Win-win.