Periodic Reporting for period 1 - HELIUM (High European Laboratory for Institutes, Universities and Markets)
Reporting period: 2015-03-01 to 2015-07-31
The main objective of HELIUM is to design and develop a commercial crewed near-space balloon-borne laboratory platform. This solution will be a bridge between ground and in-orbit testing allowing users to access space-like conditions and validating new innovative technologies. HELIUM as the only high-altitude balloon crewed platform, and as compared to suborbital rocket offerings, offers advantages for in-space research in terms of lower cost, longer flight duration, high rate of re-flight, stability and low speeds. zero2infinity has been flying commercial payloads to 30km for customers since 2013.
Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far
This phase 1 feasibility study of a duration of 5 months was used to write a detailed business plan, conduct a market analysis and a survey of potential clients, conduct a more in-depth risk analysis of the human side of high-altitude flights, as well as achieve a preliminary design of an environmental control and life support system architecture. It shows three main markets to be addressed: a portion of the market of suborbital reusable vehicles, analog missions for astronaut training, and experiments and activities that can only be done using balloons (type of market, not formally the subject of any external study). Main expected customers are governments with no independent access to space, space agencies, aerospace companies who need to test devices, research institutes for experiments and educational entities.
Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)
Zero2infinity is the first private company in Europe to have developed the capability to launch heavy stratospheric balloons independently. It is strongly positioned in the fast-growing Newspace industry and one among few European competitors. More than having an effect on only the company, it has an effect on Europe. Having a manned balloon platform in Near-Space would bring Europe to the forefront of technology and innovation in a sustainable and peaceful manner. The human element of such a laboratory should not be underestimated. The Apollo missions represent the single most important achievement of humanity in the 20th century. The human element of this mission makes it so. Not the science. It is a milestone in human history. Apart from enabling science and research goals, it will also galvanize the public and add to Europe’s contribution to global cooperation in the field of space science.