Skip to main content

Startup successfully tests space tourism balloon, service set to lift off in 2016

space tourism balloon passes first test service set lift 2016 world view
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If Virgin Galactic’s $250,000 asking price for a ride aboard SpaceShipTwo to the edge of space is a little on the steep side, perhaps you can scrabble together the $75,000 required for a balloon-based experience also offering a view of Earth from up high.

Arizona-based World View Enterprises, a startup born out of the Paragon Space Development Corporation, announced this week the successful completion of a high-altitude test flight of a stratospheric balloon and capsule based on a final design being prepped for commercial service in 2016.

“We couldn’t be any more excited about the results from this test flight,” World View CEO Jane Pointer said this week, adding that it represents “a foundational achievement that moves us one step closer to offering a life-changing experience” for its future passengers.

The five-hour test flight, which launched from Roswell, New Mexico, involved taking the massive helium balloon and capsule to an altitude of 120,000 feet (36,600 meters) – about the height from which Austrian extreme skydiver Felix Baumgartner jumped in 2012.

Once the team was satisfied with its performance at that altitude, the test vehicle was brought down to 50,000 feet (15,200 meters), at which point it deployed a parafoil to bring it gently back to terra firma.

world view space balloon
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The plan is to offer regular folk – or regular folk with $75,000 to spare – a “peaceful” flight to the edge of space “for a two-hour sailing-like experience,” World View explains on its website. In contrast, SpaceShipTwo fliers would only experience suborbital conditions for several minutes.

Those aboard World View’s eight-person capsule (two crew and six passengers) will be able to “marvel at the beauty of the Earth below and watch the sun slowly rise above the curvature of our planet suspended in a vast, black and infinite universe,” according to the startup.

It also plans to attract educators, researchers, private companies and government agencies interested in making use of the near-space environment.

While Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo is designed to take passengers more than 65 miles above the Earth’s surface – compared to 23 miles with World View’s service – the longer, and more serene experience (not to mention the more attractive price tag) may well persuade some space enthusiasts with money in the bank to opt for the startup’s experience.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
The best portable power stations
EcoFlow DELTA 2 on table at campsite for quick charging.

Affordable and efficient portable power is a necessity these days, keeping our electronic devices operational while on the go. But there are literally dozens of options to choose from, making it abundantly difficult to decide which mobile charging solution is best for you. We've sorted through countless portable power options and came up with six of the best portable power stations to keep your smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other gadgets functioning while living off the grid.
The best overall: Jackery Explorer 1000

Jackery has been a mainstay in the portable power market for several years, and today, the company continues to set the standard. With three AC outlets, two USB-A, and two USB-C plugs, you'll have plenty of options for keeping your gadgets charged.

Read more
CES 2023: HD Hyundai’s Avikus is an A.I. for autonomous boat and marine navigation
Demonstration of NeuBoat level 2 autonomous navigation system at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show

This content was produced in partnership with HD Hyundai.
Autonomous vehicle navigation technology is certainly nothing new and has been in the works for the better part of a decade at this point. But one of the most common forms we see and hear about is the type used to control steering in road-based vehicles. That's not the only place where technology can make a huge difference. Autonomous driving systems can offer incredible benefits to boats and marine vehicles, too, which is precisely why HD Hyundai has unveiled its Avikus AI technology -- for marine and watercraft vehicles.

More recently, HD Hyundai participated in the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, to demo its NeuBoat level 2 autonomous navigation system for recreational boats. The name mashes together the words "neuron" and "boat" and is quite fitting since the Avikus' A.I. navigation tech is a core component of the solution, it will handle self-recognition, real-time decisions, and controls when on the water. Of course, there are a lot of things happening behind the scenes with HD Hyundai's autonomous navigation solution, which we'll dive into below -- HD Hyundai will also be introducing more about the tech at CES 2023.

Read more
This AI cloned my voice using just three minutes of audio
acapela group voice cloning ad

There's a scene in Mission Impossible 3 that you might recall. In it, our hero Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) tackles the movie's villain, holds him at gunpoint, and forces him to read a bizarre series of sentences aloud.

"The pleasure of Busby's company is what I most enjoy," he reluctantly reads. "He put a tack on Miss Yancy's chair, and she called him a horrible boy. At the end of the month, he was flinging two kittens across the width of the room ..."

Read more