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Aerial view from a Bloon test flightAerial view from a Bloon test flight

JOSÉ LÓPEZ-URDIALES, FOUNDER AND CEO OF ZERO 2 INFINITY, PREPARES US FOR SPACE TRAVEL

Aerospace entrepreneur José López-Urdiales is CEO and founder of Zero 2 Infinity, a private Spanish aerospace company whose mission is to provide access to space. They’ve been busy developing high-altitude balloons to provide access to space and low Earth orbit using a balloon-borne pod and launcher. Since childhood, the aerospace engineer has been exposed to rockets and space missions inspired by his father’s work. This led him to train in aerospace engineering and administration, as well as work in large aerospace companies, such as Boeing and the European Space Agency. These experiences influenced him to set up one of the leading space travel companies on Earth – Zero 2 Infinity.

Founder Jose Lopez Urdiales (second-left) and the Zero 2 Infinity team in front of a prototype
Founder Jose Lopez Urdiales (second-left) and the Zero 2 Infinity team in front of a prototype

Q. Tell us a bit about you? Where are you from? And where did you grow up?

A. I was born in Granada, in the South of Spain. Then I went to the conventional places: Boeing, MIT, European Space Agency, but felt that my contribution could be higher by starting Zero 2 Infinity.  

Q. When did you first start being fascinated by space?

A. Since I was a small child.

Q. Who or what inspired you to work with space travel?

A. In Granada, there are very tall mountains there, with telescopes, and my father works at the Astrophysics Institute of Andalusia, which is based there. Thanks to my father I benefited from early exposure to Space.

Q. What type of education or experience helped your career?

A. I’m thankful to all my professors as they all stood up with my curiosity, in Aerospace Engineering, Business and even in my school years. I always wanted to know more, often beyond the curriculum. I think it’s important to provide opportunities to learn beyond the minima.

Preparing for launch before dawn

Q. How did you start Zero 2 Infinity?

A. When I saw that Virgin Galactic had, after 5 years, found a significant investment, I thought that possibly our solution, Bloon could be funded, as it requires a couple of order of magnitude less funds and provides several orders of magnitude more time of Space View in a much safer and environmentally friendly way. I put all my savings into the company, filed a patent, launched a balloon, obtained great imagery, hired the first three employees, and only then I looked for investment.

Q. Tell us more about your company and your plans for it?

A. Zero 2 Infinity is a platform to facilitate access to Space. Space Tourism and human flights to the Edge of Space are possibly the most exciting aspects, but they are not the only ones. From providing connectivity to monitoring the environment or launching at zero environmental impact satellites, our patented solutions can offer much more.

Q. What makes your work one of the most leading aerospace companies in the industry?

A. I have always liked to look at problems from first principles. I respect those who prefer copy-pasting, but I enjoy creating new things and I feel that Space is an area where most of our inventions still need to happen. This way of thinking attracts other people who also share this creativity. I want Zero 2 Infinity to be the place where things like Bloon, Bloostar happen. 

Zero 2 Infinity Bloon test flight

Q. Have you been up in space yet? If so, what’s it like?

A. Not yet. But I have my customized pressure suit ready. From what astronaut friends tell me, seeing the Earth blue and round under a pitch-black sky changes you forever. 

Q. Can anyone go into space with Zero 2 Infinity? What are the requirements?

A. Initial flights will require significant training, about 2 months. We are working to get a system where almost anybody can fly with just 2 days of training. Any age, any nationality, any you-name-it, we are probably the most open Space company there is. We accept all customers and employees too.

Q. How much is the price for each passenger? How can people buy tickets? And tell us about the spacecraft?

A. Existing reservations on Bloon have been booked at €110,000 per person. This price will surely rise as demand becomes more aware of our activities. They can contact us on our website and start the booking process. The vehicle is almost 5 meters of diameter, it holds two pilots and four passengers, it has wide panoramic windows, a bathroom, and all the amenities to make the most of your flight to the Edge of Space. The ascent is performed with a Zero Emission Helium balloon and the landing is with Parafoils and Airbags on a predefined spot.

Q. What’s next for you and the company?

A. We are working hard to send the first human up, after over 50-uncrewed flights. 

By Hershey Gargash

GET-READY-TO-TRAVEL-TO-SPACE
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