An American company hopes to send passengers into the Earth’s stratosphere in a huge helium balloon that expands to a size larger than a football field to take off.
The balloon will soar about 30,480 meters, carrying a large passenger capsule to give people striking views of the planet’s curvature and delicate atmosphere.
Currently under development by World View Enterprises, a company in Arizona, a ticket costs $50,000 — more than half the price stratospheric balloon company Space Perspective charges for a seat — and monthly payment plans are accepted.
World View flights are scheduled to begin in 2024 and will take off from sites near some of the Wonders of the World, including the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.
Dale Hipsh, president of tourism and exploration for the company, said the experience was intended to provide passengers with the big-picture effect, often described by astronauts as a powerful shift in how a person perceives. planet and life.
“What we do with our stratospheric balloon flights is we take our explorers to 100,000 feet [30,480m] in the stratosphere where they see the curvature of the Earth and the thin blue line of our atmosphere against the darkness of space,” he said. The National.
What is the experience
World View is trying to set itself apart from competing space tourism companies by promising its customers a “luxury experience”.
On launch day, people will board the capsule, which seats eight customers and two crew members, several hours before sunrise.
Flights are expected to last six to eight hours, but the ticket includes a five-day experience that includes staying in boutique hotels, exploring natural sites near the spaceport, dining at local restaurants, a spa, yoga and other fitness activities.
Mr Hipsh said Grand Canyon Spaceport tickets are now sold out for the whole of 2024.
Other launch sites are being built and planned, including the Serengeti in Kenya, Norway where you can see the Northern Lights, the Amazon in Brazil, near the Great Wall of China in Mongolia and near of the pyramids of Giza in Egypt.
“Our intention is to offer a range of activities that allow you to experience the particular destinations in which we find ourselves,” Mr. Hipsh said.
“And again, we want to be aware of what’s going to happen the next day – the day we send you into near space. We want you to be at the peak of sunrise, so that means you have to get up early in the morning.
Fifteen minutes after liftoff, the curvature of the Earth will become visible.
It will be an approximately two-hour climb to the edge of space, after which the balloon will float to its maximum altitude so passengers can enjoy the view before descending.
Passengers will not experience weightlessness at any time during the controlled flight.
Even though the balloon does not enter space, the United States Federal Aviation Administration still classifies it as a spacecraft due to the high altitude it will reach.
The capsule is pressurized, air-conditioned and large enough for passengers to get up from their seats and move around.
Food and drinks will be served and restrooms are on board. There are reclining seats, expansive windows for 360 degree views, high-speed data connectivity and a telescope.
A $500 deposit is required to reserve a spot.
Has the technology been tested?
The company has over seven years of experience in stratospheric flight.
He operates another group called Stratollites, a robotic balloon craft that carries payloads for long journeys.
“From the design of the spaceflight capsule to the helium-filled zero-pressure balloon flight system and the patented parafoil landing system, safety at every step is our primary goal,” World View said.
“We have also designed several redundant security measures if one of the main security measures does not work during the flight.
“For example, if the parafoil system fails during landing, we also have a backup parachute system that would be deployed to gently slow down and land the capsule.”
What do other space tourism companies offer?
Space Perspective is another stratospheric balloon company offering a similar flight experience for $125,000 per seat.
Their flights take off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida and also reach a peak of 30,480m, with operations expected to begin in 2024. Flights are fully booked through 2025.
Space Perspective also has reclining seats, large windows, Wi-Fi connectivity and an onboard lavatory.
Blue Origin is launching suborbital flights, where passengers can experience weightlessness for about four minutes.
The New Shepard rocket launches from a New Mexico desert, carrying a passenger capsule 100 kilometers above the ground.
It’s unclear how much the company charges per seat, but competitor Virgin Galactic is asking for $450,000.
Updated: July 22, 2022, 6:00 p.m.