You Can Now Book a Seat to Fly With a Football Field-Sized Balloon Above Earth

We've seen how billionaires raced to open the gates to space tourism. And while the idea of flying on a Virgin Galatic's suborbital spaceplane or taking a trip onboard Blue Origin's rocket might sound interesting, an Arizona-based company aims to start taking paying customers on stratospheric balloon rides.
World View announced that it has entered space tourism and it plans to start taking paying customers on stratospheric balloon rides 9 photos
Photo: World View
Illustration of pressurized space capsuleIllustration of pressurized space capsuleIllustration of a zero-pressure balloonIllustration of a zero-pressure balloonIllustration of pressurized space capsuleIllustration of a zero-pressure balloonIllustration of pressurized space capsuleIllustration of a zero-pressure balloon
World View has recently announced plans to enter space tourism and take passengers into the stratosphere on balloon rides. The company will use zero-pressure balloons made of a plastic film that is about as thin as a plastic sandwich wrap. The balloons will be filled with helium, and once expanded, they will be just as big as a football field.

One single balloon will carry eight participants and two crew members in a pressurized space capsule 100,000 feet (30,000 meters) high. A trip will last around 12 hours in total.

Passengers will ascend from the company's spaceport early in the morning, and it will take the balloon around two hours to reach the highest point of the flight. Once above Earth, the navigation system will keep tourists hovering for up to eight hours, offering them plenty of time to enjoy the ride and admire the Earth's curvature and darkness of space.

The capsule will deploy a parafoil system and separate from the balloon upon descent, slowly returning to the spaceport.

Each seat on the company's pressurized capsule has a $50,000 price tag, which is $400,000 less than you'd have to pay for a flight with Virgin Galactic's spaceplane. And if you wanted to be the first to book a ride on World View's giant balloon, well, that spot is already taken by the nonprofit Space for Humanity.

The eight seats were bought by the organization and will be offered to a group of citizens that will be selected and trained before they hop on their stratospheric journey.

For World View, this will not be the first time that it's venturing into space tourism. In 2014, the company announced plans to develop a fully functional ballon called Voyager that could take passengers to the edge of space for $75,000 a seat. World View hoped to have Voyager ready in 2016, but that didn't go as planned.

Now, the company is back and expects to have its first balloon ride take place in 2024.

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About the author: Florina Spînu
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Florina taught herself how to drive in a Daewoo Tico (a rebadged Suzuki Alto kei car) but her first "real car" was a VW Golf. When she’s not writing about cars, drones or aircraft, Florina likes to read anything related to space exploration and take pictures in the middle of nature.
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