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If one were to tie, say a 1000 or so weather balloons to a light aluminum platform and attach a rocket to that sucker why would it not be much cheaper and safer to launch payloads into orbit and beyond?
launching from near orbit would significantly increase the advantage' in angular/linear velocity
.8 is nothing to sneeze at.
Did you forget? It isn't the altitude that matters, its the velocity. You have to accelerate the mass to orbital velocity.
plus the 100,000 ft worth of fuel you dont have to burn, contain, and channel into thrust.
getting to escape velocity at a higher altitude necessitates less fuel, less drag man.
Well then, there you go. You need to tell those rocket scientists about something they never considered.
Add all these advantages and more that i havent mentioned yet, i think it would be safer and somewhat cheaper