Huntsville Alabama L5 Society (HAL5) - Project HALO

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Huntsville Alabama L5 Society (HAL5) - Project HALO
Status active
Country United States of America

State or District


City Huntsville

Date of founding


Last Updated 2011-10-28


Snail mail

United States of America

Number of members


Membership fee

$16/yr for Regular Membership, $8/yr for Special Membership (youth <22yrs, senior citizen, retired or unemployed). Application info at the HAL5 website:

Size of rooms

450 ft²

Location 34° 43' 21", -86° 35' 23"

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Project HALO builds aerospace projects under the HAL5 Society. Our ongoing projects include:

  • A derivative hybrid rocket of the ARCAS sounding rocket that we have dubbed Tube Launch 1 (TL-1). The goal is to carry small payloads to space; above an altitude of 62 miles (~100 km).
  • A small liquid-propellant rocket.
  • Experimental hybrid motors.
  • A jet engine built from a truck turbocharger.

Project HALO meets weekly. For additional information about the project, our meeting location, and tax-deductible donations, please Just drop us an email ( with subject "HAL5 Project HALO Inquiry").

The HAL5 Society meets monthly on the first Thursday of every month at the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library's Auditorium at 7pm for free programs on an aerospace subject. Please see our Calendar for details.

About HAL5's Project HALO[edit]

After the success of ISDC (International Space Development Conference) 1993 here in Huntsville, HAL5 began its biggest project ever in 1994, Project HALO (for "High-Altitude Lift-Off"). The goals of the project are no less than to provide cheap access to space for small clubs and student groups. We selected a hybrid propulsion system. Hybrid rockets operate by burning solid with liquid oxidizer. They can be throttled, shut off and restarted in flight.

  • Solid fuel is "inert" and can be safely handled and transported.
  • Liquid oxidizer can be separately transported and loaded at launch.
  • No dangerous or exotic chemicals are needed
  • Fuel is asphalt (street tar) or synthetic rubber made from HTPB, and
  • Oxidizer is nitrous-oxide, N2O or laughing gas.

On May 11, 1997, HAL5 made amateur rocketry history when it successfully performed its first hybrid rockoon mission, dubbed Sky Launch 1. We launched SL-1 from a grass strip airfield just north of Hampstead, North Carolina, about a mile west of Topsail Beach. The balloon was over 50,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean when the rocket was fired. The HALO SL-1 rocket ascended to approximately 36 nautical miles. HALO that day conducted the world's first high altitude ignition of a hybrid rocket. It is the highest flight of a hybrid rocket at that time. That day, HAL5 proved to the world that small groups can accomplish great things and made space a little closer to all of us.

The record made the 2000 Guinness Book of World Records under Amateur Rocketry. Due to avionics glitches, no accurate altitude was recorded. However, Greg Allison (the former Project HALO Manager) indicated that the balloon's camera showed the curvature of the earth and "black sky," Some believed we were a lot higher than 36 miles. HAL5's record stood until 2004 when Civilian Space eXploration Team (CSXT) achieved 72 miles.

SL-1 and subsequent attempt of SL-2, and indirect involvement with Space Frontier Foundation - CATS Prize, peeked interests in a lot of folks. If high altitude ignition and hybrid rocket sounds familiar, well, it should. HAL5 did not invent rockoon or hybrid rocket, but we took the ideas, combined them, and made it more interesting.

Over the years, HAL5 has tested a lot of hybrid motors. We experienced failures and set backs along the way. In the end, we are about learning and trying new ideas. We have inspired and helped others to pursuit a more lofty goal. Some of us even dabber at a hybrid-powered rocket bikes and then some in our spare time.

About The Huntsville Alabama L5 Society (HAL5)[edit]

The Huntsville Alabama L5 (HAL5) Society, the Huntsville Alabama chapter of the National Space Society (NSS) has made significant contributions toward developing cheap access to space technology, space education, and public outreach since it was formed in 1983. Members share the enthusiasm that space development can stimulate our world with immeasurable benefits in the areas of education, energy, environment, industry, resources, and ultimately room to grow for our society. HAL5 and NSS believe that by educating and working with the public, the government, and private industry, we can speed up the date when routine, safe, and affordable space travel is available to anyone who wants to go.

For almost 30 years, HAL5 has sponsored numerous educational projects and activities in Huntsville. It has hosted a continuing series of public lectures, forums, and events on space-related topics, at both the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and the Huntsville Public Library. Hot topics have included the Space Station, space science, and both public and private attempts to provide cheap access to space, space sciences, technologies and book lectures. HAL5 was presented an NSS Chapter Excellence Award for the outstanding public lecture series in 1997; Chapter Excellence Award for Public Outreach in 2008; and Excellence Chapter of the Year Award in 2009.

Eighteen years ago, HAL5 hosted the 1993 International Space Development Conference (ISDC), the 12th annual conference of the NSS, and of one of its most successful. Over 700 space enthusiasts from Huntsville and around the nation and the world gathered at the Huntsville Hilton to hear over 120 speakers lecture and debate on the benefits of space and on what it will take to get there. The City of Huntsville honored HAL5 for making the 1993 ISDC one of its top ten conferences. HAL5 hosted Southeastern Space Development Conference (SSDC) in November of 2004. In 1987, HAL5 supported a Space Shuttle "Get-Away-Special Canister (GAS Can)" project for local high school students. In 1993, HAL5 hosted a highly successful 3-day "Junior Cadet Program", part of the 1993 ISDC. In 1995, HAL5 purchased and donated a reusable tethered balloon to the Huntsville elementary school system to support its HOPE program. HAL5 has sponsored "Space Week" activities on numerous occasions, including March of 1996. HAL5 has also designed a pilot program to take space and science education into the grade-school classroom in the same manner as the Junior Achievement (JA) does for business. In March of 1996, HAL5 unveiled its new educational program, called Project HALO Achievement.

In May 2011, HAL5 hosted the 30th ISDC (ISDC 2011), with over 850 participants, speakers, and exhibitors. We also received the 2010 NSS Chapter of the Year!

As a space advocacy group, HAL5 has hosted many activities to build non-partisan political support for space. Many HAL5 members participate in letter writing campaigns to alert our governmental representatives of our interest in space. HAL5 hosts lectures designed to call the public attention to space-related issues and to urge them to write, call, fax, or E-Mail their elected officials. HAL5 also distributes petitions and surveys on space exploration, development, and tourism.

In 1994, HAL5 began its biggest project ever, Project HALO (for "High-Altitude Lift-Off"). The goals of the project are no less than to provide cheap access to space for small clubs and student groups. HAL5 made significant contributions toward the development of nitrous-oxide hybrid rockets (over 300 static test firings) and their near-space launch from high altitude balloons. On May 11, 1997, HAL5 made amateur rocketry history when it successfully performed its first hybrid rockoon mission, dubbed Sky Launch 1. The rocket was launched from a high altitude balloon at approximately 20 miles and made the Guinness Book of World Records. We are currently designing Tube Launch 1 (TL-1) rocket and testing other hybrid propulsion concepts. Today those technologies are poised to find expression in Virgin Galactic's air launched nitrous-oxide hybrid rocket powered SpaceShip Two. This is proof positive that great things can start in small organizations.

Above all, HAL5 has pledged to keep Huntsville and its neighbors informed of the positive benefits of space research and development, whether by NASA, other governments, or private industry. HAL5 has also pledged to alert Huntsville and vicinity during the times for action, whenever letters, calls, and petitions can improve our chances for becoming a spacefaring civilization. And lastly, via Project HALO, HAL5 has pledged to lead the way in showing the public, the government, and private industry that cheap access to space can indeed be made a reality!

Both HAL5 and the NSS are not-for-profit 501(c)(3), grassroots, space educational / advocacy organizations. You can find out more information about HAL5 by stopping by our monthly program. I hope you come and join us at our monthly meetings and outings, and help us to reach for the stars!

Ad Astra per Aruda! --- To the Stars by Our Own Hands

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