The UASL project (Upper Atmosphere Space Launcher) is an initiative that aims to perform a balloon assisted parabolic flight to the space boundary (100km) with a P/L of 1kg. This would provide a platform for students, university researchers and space enterprises to perform experiments and certifications in microgravity, reentry simulation and studies in space conditions. It is also a first step on a field of keen interest for the industry: launch microsatellites into orbit in an efficient and inexpensive way.
Conventional space delivery systems are not optimized for light P/L and therefore they are very expensive and inefficient. The main cause is that no matter how small the P/L is, the launcher wastes most of its fuel going through the denser layers of the atmosphere.
Launching from the stratosphere with the assistance of helium balloons minimizes drag losses and allows optimizing the nozzle for high atmosphere conditions.