Jun 27, 2022 - News

Denver-based tech balloon company expands

A blue balloon flies over mostly empty land on a clear day.
An Urban Sky microballoon. Photo: Courtesy of Urban Sky

Denver-based Urban Sky is expanding its customer base for its high-flying tech balloons.

Details: CEO Andrew Antonio said these balloons can get high-resolution images and data at much lower costs than satellites or aircraft by flying in the stratosphere — the region above where commercial aircraft fly but below low-Earth orbit.

  • The balloons are about the size of a Volkswagen bus when they launch, then inflate to the size of a car garage, the Verge reports. That's still smaller than most stratospheric balloons, which is why Urban Sky dubs them "microballoons."
  • The images can give organizations like insurance companies and environmental agencies clear visuals of ground conditions.

Driving the news: The startup announced last week that it's getting into commercial work.

The intrigue: The company, founded in 2019, is developing a thermal camera that can be attached to its balloons to detect and monitor wildfires — which are increasingly common in Colorado — in real time.

  • "The idea is that if there's a lightning strike out in the mountains or an active fire, this is a really, really low-cost option to deploy a system that can scan huge portions of the forest," Antonio tells Axios Denver.
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