Space Tourism Gets One Step Closer to Taking You to Space in a Giant Balloon
World View Enterprises has long been plotting to take humans to space in a giant balloon, and now it's a significant step closer to this strange, slightly frightening goal, as the first test of their technology shattered records and successfully took a payload over 100,000 feet in the air.
The most recent test flight took the unmanned payload over 19 miles (102,000 feet) in the air, right to the edge of the Earth's atmosphere. Not only is that higher than any parafoil has ever ascended before, but it's actually World View's target height for their future manned flights. Taking customers to the edge of space would allow for spectacular sightseeing, with the black of space above them and a view of Earth below.
Although the idea sounds surreal, even absurd, the reasoning is somewhat sound. Floating up into space would likely be much more comfortable and less invasive than shooting up in a rocket, and it would actually be less expensive. $75,000 dollars for a seat on the balloon is more than most people could pay, but it's still much less than the $250,000 it takes to become a space tourist with Virgin Galactic.
"The successful flight of the parafoil at this altitude brings us closer to flying private citizens safely to the edge of space and also allows us to continue our research and education program by providing safe access to the near-space environment," said World View CFO Taber MacCallum.
World View Enterprises believes that this test flight proves that the concept is safe for humans, and plans to begin manned missions in 2016.