Arizona Votes To Build Spaceport For Space Ballooning
The high altitude balloon company World View Enterprises reached an important milestone today, when Arizona’s Pima County voted to award them a $14.5 million deal to build a spaceport. Jane Poynter, CEO of World View, says that this vote comes after a yearlongsearch for a World View headquarters location.
The core competency of the company is its ability to bring payloads up to 100,000 feet and safely back down to the ground. Today’s spaceport decision will enable it to expand testing and development work in an effort to ramp up payload flights.
Taber MacCallum, World View’s CTO, noted that Arizona was particularly well-suited for the company’s business. Arizona has consistently good weather, making regular balloon flights more reliable. Also, in-air traffic issues aren’t likely to be an issue because nearby military bases ensure that the air space is well controlled.
The payloads that World View could accommodate could include anything from cameras that look down for remote sensing, to telescopes that look up for astronomy experiments, to paying customers themselves. To date, World View has launched technology payloads with NASA, Northrop Grumman and the Department of Defense.
In addition to technology payloads, the company can also fly humans to the edge of space. Back in 2014, the company provided the technology for Google executive Alan Eustace to conduct the highest free fall is history.
The company is perhaps most famously known for its “World View Experience,” which is a high-altitude balloon ride for people who want to view the Earth from the stratosphere and softly glide back down to the Earth.
According to World View, their passengers would gently lift off in a pressurized capsule, complete with Wi-Fi and a bar, that would hold six passengers and two crew members. During the ascent, the helium would expand in the balloon as the pressure inside the balloon attempted to equalize with the low-pressure of the high-altitude atmosphere.
After a couple of hours, the passengers reach their peak height at 100,000 feet at which point the balloon would be fully expanded. The capsule would then “sail” the stratosphere for around two hours.
When it’s time for the capsule to return home, the pilot descends by venting the helium and eventually detaching from the balloon itself. The pilot would guide the capsule back to the ground using a ParaWing (similar to a paraglider).
Although crewed flights won’t begin until late 2017 or early 2018, you can purchase World View Experience tickets today for $75,000.
World View Enterprises