Stratoflight plans to take civilians to space in a balloon

Stratoflight launches peaceful flights to the stratosphere inside a hydrogen-powered balloon capsule. Jenny Southan

Join the likes of perspective from space in the race for “slow space tourism” is stratoflighta French company that has designed a “sustainable” mode of space transportation that will allow up to six people (including two pilots) to float to the stratosphere inside a capsule.

Forget high octane rockets as seen at Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, the Stratoflight capsule will soar 35km above the ground using hydrogen balloon technology, for a gentle cruise through space.

The ogive-shaped capsule (it’s the same shape as a gothic arch – think of both straight and curved lines) measures 8m x 4m x 3m, and comes with an “external” viewing platform to allow passengers to step out into space and drink in views of the earth, wearing specially designed pressure suits.

At this altitude, the curvature of the planet will be visible, as well as a horizon extending from Barcelona to Amsterdam, approximately 1,239 km.

The Stratoflight capsule will be able to fly at speeds of up to 140km/h for the return to earth, thanks to its aerodynamic shape, while the descent to earth is carried out under a piloted paraglider.

Arnaud Longobardi, airline pilot and co-founder of Stratoflight, declares: “Stratoflight offers passengers multiple exceptional experiences: the ascent in space which resembles a flight in a hot air balloon, going out on the panoramic balcony, moving in the space like an astronaut, and landing, similar to paragliding; all this in a spaceship-like capsule.

“For me, this mission is not only the realization of my pilot dreams but also a technological innovation respectful of the planet.”

In order to ensure a zero carbon footprint, the hydrogen required for take-off will be produced locally at each take-off site using renewable energies, including solar and wind power. Further nods to sustainability are evident in the design of the cockpit, which is made from bio-based, recycled or recyclable materials.

French company Stratoflight has partnered with engineering, technology and consulting company Expleo to launch the project.

Frédérique Rebout, head of space at Expedition, says: “Making space accessible to everyone, while respecting the environment, is at the heart of what we believe in at Expleo. Our teams of space engineers have designed this capsule with this dual objective. And we intend to go further.

“We are currently studying the possibility of manufacturing the capsule from new green composite materials based on bamboo, which would further reduce its carbon footprint. We are proud of our work with Stratoflight and our contribution to this innovation.

Passenger reservations will open in early 2023, with a first flight scheduled for 2025. Stratoflight will also offer several flights each year to people committed to eco-responsible and environmental causes.