World View has a new approach to space tourism, planning to take you right to the edge of space -- in a balloon. For far less than the millions of dollars some companies will charge, World View is planning to launch passenger balloons to take you more than 98,000 feet above the Earth's surface for the bargain price of just $75,000.
The high-altitude adventure will include a period of weightlessness -- and the iconic curved-Earth space view and our thin, blue atmosphere against the infinite darkness of space.
After a 2-hour ascent in the capsule which carries eight passengers -- and requires wearing only street clothes -- World View says the space tourism pod will spend 2 to 6 hours floating more than 30 kilometers above the Earth, offering spectacular views.
World View Enterprises is planning to launch the passenger balloons from Spaceport America in New Mexico. The return to Earth will take about 20-40 minutes and will include a period of free fall before a parafoil is deployed to slow the descent.
Here the capsule is suspended from cables. The balloon is made of high-performance polyethylene film with multiple layers to maintain structural integrity.
The Federal Aviation Administration has written that the Paragon Space Development-designed capsule will need to be "space qualified" for protecting the occupants at the altitude at which it's intended to fly. Paragon already has more than 20 years of experience designing, building, and testing life support, and environmental control systems for manned space missions, including the International Space Station.
Space tourism has been a hot topic for years, with passengers shelling out up to $20 million for a shot at getting out of Earth's atmosphere. You could end up saving a lot of money if you're willing to settle for near-space instead. World View Enterprises is planning to launch passenger balloons to more than 98,000 feet above the planet's surface.
World View hasn't specified a timeline for its new brand of space tourism, but the capsule is already under construction. So the more adventurous traveler may soon be able to find a most spectacular view of our blue marble and the dark void beyond.