The first attempts made in Phendrana's Glacier One outpost were failures; most died before maturing. Those that survived became violent, destroying everything in sight. Eventually the project was moved to the Phazon Mines. After much experimentation with different strains of Phazon, Research Team Sclera finally managed to successfully combine a strain called Vertigo with Space Pirate DNA.
The Space Pirates termed their experiments Elite Pirates: larger, stronger, and more resilient than average Pirates. The Space Pirates would train them by allowing them to kill those maddened from Phazon exposure. Given their high success rates in simulations against Samus Aran, their ability to wield and use a variety of weapons, and their incredible resilience, they were considered for mass production for use in the Space Pirate military alongside Flying Pirates and Troopers. Experiments were fed Elite Ration Mix made with Deca-Triticale, and later with Phazon-infused Saturnines.
The subjects of Project Helix wield a variety of powerful offensive and defensive equipment.
- Wave Quake Generators: These are used to generate a massive wave of energy and are the primary weapon used by Elite Pirates.
- Plasma Artillery Cannons: Shoulder mounted weapons. It has a major vulnerability: the heat signature given off by most allows for easy targeting via Thermal Imaging.
- Energy-siphon System and Omega Pirate Absorption System: Siphons beam weapon shots to power the Plasma Artillery Cannons. A design flaw in Elite Pirate Upsilon's absorption system cannot handle missile fire.
- Chameleon Manta: Used for cloaking purposes but requires massive amounts of power, leaving its user vulnerable. The only known subject wielding it is Elite Pirate Upsilon.
Creations of Project Helix
- Main article: Elite Pirate
- Main article: Phazon Elite
Samus Aran encounters only one Phazon Elite; she must defeat it in order to claim the Artifact of Warrior. It does not carry a Plasma Cannon. It has a low life span, but this is of little concern to the Pirates.
Elite Pirate Upsilon
- Main article: Omega Pirate
Known as the Omega Pirate, this is the most powerful of the Elite Pirate forces and the pinnacle of Project Helix. Simulations gave it low life expectancy and due to the massive amounts of Phazon used in its creation, it is not very cost effective for mass production.
Upsilon in stasis
- "Confidence is high regarding Phazon applications. We know enough about Phazon now to begin combining it with Space Pirate DNA. The code name for this venture will be 'Project Helix'. Preliminary studies indicate that Phazon infusion could produce radical new Pirate genomes. Benevolent mutation levels are high in current test subjects. Phazon madness is a concern, but refinements in the infusion process should reduce or neutralize the odds of mental degeneration." —Space Pirate Data (Metroid Prime)
- "Initial Project Helix experiments with Space Pirate embryos were disastrous. The Phazon-infusion process degenerated brain tissue even as it augmented muscle mass. None of what we have termed 'Elite Pirates' lived to maturity; the few that survived their infanthood suffered severe psychotic breakdowns as juveniles, killing anything within their zone of perception. Research team Sclera made a recent breakthrough, in which parasite studies with a Phazon strain code-named 'Vertigo' were highly successful. Since then, we have fused Vertigo Phazon with Space Pirate DNA with great success. The latest batch of Elite Pirates have reached maturity successfully and are ready for field testing and training." —Space Pirate Data (Metroid Prime)
- "An entire shift of Dynamo workers have been transferred following bouts of Phazon madness. Units have reported to Science Team for use in laboratory studies and the new Elite Pirate program. Their dementia will make them adequate training adversaries for the Elite team." —Space Pirate Data (Metroid Prime)
- "Test results from Battle Simulation 'Samus Aran' are promising. Elite units report a 74% success ratio against Aran in testing. High Command is pleased, but expects a higher ratio by project's end." —Space Pirate Data (Metroid Prime)
- "As we continue to observe the development of Project Helix's Elite Pirates, it becomes increasingly obvious that these warriors will usher in a new era of Space Pirate dominance. They are incredibly resistant to damage, and their ability to transport and wield so many weapons at once makes them the ideal mainstays of our ground forces. Though they are not as quick as typical Pirates, it makes little difference. With a platoon of Elite Pirates in the vanguard of an army of normal and Flying Pirates, we will have a near-indestructible backbone that should turn the tide in any engagement." —Space Pirate Data (Metroid Prime)
- "Omega Pirate Absorption System test results are in. Field tests indicate that the system is very effective against Beam weaponry. We are alarmed at the field's inability to handle Missile attacks, however. Science Team is working around the clock to correct this critical design flaw. The Omega Pirate cannot afford such a weakness in battle." —Space Pirate Data (Metroid Prime)
- "Elite Pirate Upsilon's propensity for Phazon has enabled our research team to infuse it far beyond our safety restrictions, and the results have been extremely encouraging. Its constant Phazon diet has increased its mass exponentially, but it has retained all mental faculties and shows dexterity with all Elite weaponry, including Plasma Incendiary Launchers and the Chameleon Manta issued for cloaking purposes. Elite Pirate Upsilon exhibits miraculous healing abilities: when injured, it seeks out Phazon deposits and coats itself in the substance, which instantly mends the creature's wounds. The subject, which we are code-naming Omega Pirate based on these developments, shows potential to be a new standards for our armies. Our only concern at this point is its potential overdependence on Phazon." —Space Pirate Data (Metroid Prime)
- "Elite Pirate infused with energized Phazon. The Phazon-charged Elite Pirates rely more on their Wave Quake Generators, opting not to carry the vulnerable Plasma Artillery Cannons normally used by Elites. The direct fusing of Phazon into their bodies provides a tremendous level of energy. The drastically lower life span that comes with this process is of little concern to the Pirate Research team." —Logbook (Metroid Prime)
- "Data suggests that Omega Pirate life spans are critically low. High levels of Phazon exposure are causing rapid cell degeneration in all test subjects. No subject lived longer than 2 deca-cycles in our simulations. Their life spans must be increased to be cost-effective." —Space Pirate Data (Metroid Prime)