satellites on the cheap
I was thinking about space exploration last night in the same way. you see people launching balloons with cell phone cameras attached into the stratosphere, on the cheap, say several hundred or a thousand dollars. So why not lift satellites and other payloads into orbit in the same way? perhaps small satellites or even micro satellites in great numbers to build a massive and extensive satellite system above the earth? Range may be an issue but if older satellites are used as boosters or some other system does the same?
slight side track there, back to space exploration on the cheap. use existing equipment and infrastructure to support any number of small or very tiny craft with decent communications, cameras and testing equipment and lift them into orbit via balloon or dirigible and have the craft fire off a small rocket to get to orbit from the high atmosphere and then go looking around. the missions would not have to be specific but i imagine they would be. how long would it take to point a small craft or number of small craft in one direction, i.e. mars or the moon and have them set up orbit and relay information back to earth. I do not think we are in a great rush here; we could save costs by not spending large sums of money on large rockets and fuel. I see potential cost savings with balloon or dirigible payloads to the high atmosphere and then to orbit with a little rocket assist. I could be wrong, but think how a scientist in a steam punk novel might do it.