The age of space tourism is upon us. And while everybody else is preparing to launch their spacecrafts with rocket engines and other traditional propulsion methods, turns out someone else has another manner of high-altitude flight in mind -- balloons. Seriously, that's exactly what World View is doing with their balloon capsule outer space rides.
Granted, we have a feeling the flight mechanism behind this helium balloon spacecraft is a lot more complicated than what goes on with hot air balloons flying passengers over parks and fields (same with the man flying in an office chair using 55 balloons, but I digress). Still, telling people you took a balloon ride to space sounds a whole lot cooler than telling them you took a spaceship with rockets and all them boring space travel tech.
World View's balloon-powered spacecraft won't come anywhere near the 62-mile boundary of space, taking passengers just short of 20 miles high instead. Oh yeah, there won't be anti-gravity sensation at those heights, so don't bother donning a bikini and doing a Kate Upton impression. Once launched, the balloon will lift the capsule gently, taking its sweet time (around 1.5 hours) to reach the desired altitude. From there, the craft will sail the stratosphere for approximately two hours, giving voyagers a view of the planet and outer space right on top of 99% of the earth's atmosphere. For the return trip, helium will be vented slowly from the balloon, eventually releasing it and letting the parawing sitting under the balloon to take over for the remainder of the flight back.
The Arizona-based company is targeting a 2016 launch for the service, with ticket prices starting at $75,000.