Space tourism may soon be within arms reach with World View’s high altitude helium balloon. For a cool $75,000, passengers will be able to spend several hours taking in views of the Earth from 100,000 feet up, just beyond the atmosphere. At a fraction of the cost of Virgin’s SpaceShipTwo, World View hopes to make space travel a commercial reality.
Unlike Virgin’s SpaceShipTwo, the World View balloon will not offer guests the weightlessness that astronauts experience, but it will be a space-y ride nonetheless. Hovering at 19 miles, the trip doesn’t technically bring passengers to the outer reaches of space, but instead offers a view of Earth against the black void of space. What’s more, World View passengers will get to spend several hours at maximum altitude and marvel at the Earth’s beauty. SpaceShipTwo customers on the other hand only get a few minutes at the peak height before making their descent back to earth.
Eight passengers would spend about an hour and a half ascending into space, being pulled in a capsule cabin by a giant balloon. Once 100,000 feet is reached, they’d float for two hours to take in views before being disconnected from the balloon. The capsule would then free fall, using a parafoil to safely glide back to the surface.
The other difference between World View and Virgin SpaceShipTwo is the pricetag. At $75,000 a pop, World View hopes to be more affordable than the $250,000 fee for Virgin’s sub-orbital rocket ride. World View has yet to flight test its journey, but hopes to welcome customers aboard in 2016.