Virginiastar is Hotchkissmade's near-space ballooning program. Our goal involves putting things in the sky, 3 times higher than the cruising altitude of a jet. We'll do this without spending a dime on conventional fuels. It'll land somewhere, over 50 miles away. We'll find it. And then we'll do it again.

You've probably heard of people doing it before. We all have. We're different for a couple of reasons. The first is that flights in Virginia are usually projected to land in the ocean. The second is how we're approaching it with a software-oriented mindset. We want to write the best ballooning software in the world. Then we want to release it, open-source style, so other teams can use what we've learned. We're not in for the money. We're in it because when we see the pictures of the earth from where less than 100 humans have been, we know we'll get teary eyed. We're doing it because we wanted to be astronauts as kids, and this is our chance to do that. We're doing it because we all know that something as simple as a balloon can change the world.