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Two Colorado Companies Create Less-Costly Vehicle to Send into Stratosphere

from the Denver Post

COLORADO SPRINGS -- George Bye and Ron Oholendt are a couple of retired "flyboys" who share the same dream of getting an unmanned airship to the stratosphere.

The former Air Force entrepreneurs think that StarLight--a two-stage system with a planelike vehicle suspended below a massive gas-filled balloon--is the answer to a longtime challenge. There had to be a less-costly way to send instruments for surveillance and telecommunications into the upper atmosphere where they could operate for long periods.

"The problem was people took what worked in low altitude and tried it at high altitude, and that didn't work," said Oholendt, president of Global Near Space Services of Colorado Springs. Oholendt and Bye, chief executive of Bye Aerospace of Englewood, discarded a 70-year-old design for an airship that resembles a blimp. Instead, Oholendt's company turned to a "lighter-than-air" concept of a 300-foot-long, 290-foot-high and 90-foot-thick balloon.

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