In order to undertake this grand effort, we need your help!

If you’re interested in volunteering, please see the TechDetails wiki for Mini-Projects To-Do, and contact

Because we are on a very tight deadline to be ready by the time the Jet Streams start flowing in December, these flights are too expensive for the project team members to bootstrap on their own. So to fund the project, we are seeking private donations for these flights.

We also welcome corporate sponsors and donations of services such as web server space, graphic designs, helium, PCB fabrication, electronics parts, etc.  In the style of a Frequently Asked Questions list, here is the White Star Balloon funding information.

How much will it take?

The estimated project budget is 13200 USD, spread over October 2010 to April 2011.  Below are the project budget details.

Direct costs per flight:

  • Balloon 300 USD
  • Helium 110 USD
  • Satellite Radio 170 USD
  • Communications 100 USD
  • Batteries 60 USD
  • Payload structures 50 USD
  • Other Electronics and parts 200 USD

Total per flight: 1090 USD

x 5 flights: 5450 USD total cost

Fixed costs:

  • Liability Insurance $7500 USD
    • This is to cover costs to people and property that could be damaged by operation of the balloon
  • Per month Web hosting: 25-100 USD
    • The project will need a web service provider able to withstand a sudden onslaught of visitors when flights are in the air.   As the world learns of the flights, everyone will try to watch our website for live updates of the balloon’s progress in the air.   This web server would dissapear from the internet, crushed under that load.

So by early November, 2010, in order to launch the first test balloon in late November/early December, we need to raise 2430 USD:

  • the first 50% of the 5 balloon envelopes cost, 750 USD
  • the first and second flight’s non-balloon costs: 1580 USD
  • The first two months of web service: 100 USD

By late November, 2010 we need to raise an additional: 8520 USD

  • the second 50% of the 5 balloons cost, 750 USD*** (this is now covered by a buyer we found to split the order with us)
  • the insurance $7500

Spread from January through April: 2520 USD

  • three flights non-balloon cost: 2370 USD
  • Web hosting costs: 150 USD

End total amount: 13200 USD

Non-profit 501(c)(3)?

No, unfortunately the LVL1 Makerspace is just now applying for 501(c)(3) status, and it is not known when it will be approved by the IRS.  In order to obtain 501(c)(3) status in the interim, LVL1 is applying for a fiscal sponsorship with the, another not-for-profit organization who provides services and consultation to help hackerspaces succeed.  If this is preventing your donation to this exciting endeavor, please let us know at and we will let you know as soon as we receive 501(c)(3) status via the School Factory.

Buying the 10-pack of balloons

These balloons are custom weather balloons made by Global Western to our specifications and designed to float optimally in the Jet Stream.  The minimum order quantity is 10 balloons.  We estimate that we’ll need 5 flights to improve our technology and gather enough data to successfully cross the ocean.   We have found another buyer to split the 10-pack cost with us, and we will only be paying for 5 of them upfront.