It costs about $4,000 to make one AirCore device, and anyone can build one. Launching one AireCore costs about $2,000 for the cost of consumables such as helium, the balloon, and the cost of labor. By comparison a research flight using a jet aircraft costs about $12,000, says Tans. And a jet can't fly higher than about 60,000 feet. In the past, obtaining samples from the top half of the atmosphere has required either a rocket or an industrial-size balloon, costing even more more. Consumer drones, which have become more available in recent years, also are restricted by FAA guidelines and can't reach nearly the same heights.