[this post has been partially damaged during a server failure on Sunday 11th July 2004, and it has been possible to recover only a part of it]
[this post was finally recovered on 13 October 2018]
Now here’s a funky idea – sub-orbital spaceflight in enormous helium balloons, up to a two-mile wide sub-space station (a permanant facility at the very boundries of our atmosphere). This could be used to carry spaceship components for assembly in orbit, and then launched using ion drives at a fraction of the price of rocket launches.
The designers estimate that they can have a functional prototype within seven years – given the funding they’d like – and that journeys into space could be done almost for free and much more safely (albeit at the time expense that it would take up to nine days to get there).