World View Enterprises near space balloon flights to begin in 2016
The newest entry in the fledgling space (or near-space) tourism sector will see passengers take a balloon ride to an altitude of 30 km (18.6 mi) from where they will be treated to a spectacular view of the Earth.
World View Enterprises has now obtained US Federal Aviation Administration approval for its proposed balloon experiences, which will cost US$75,000, and are projected to begin in 2016.
A mere ten years elapsed between the first demonstration of controlled powered manned flight and the first commercial passenger air route. Those of us around at the beginning of the Space Age expected (perhaps naively) a rather rapid transition to orbital hotels and flourishing bases or colonies on the Moon, Mars, and elsewhere in the Solar System.
Instead, nearly 70 years have passed without making much visible progress toward such a future. As a result, people are seeking something to give them a taste of space. While these sub-orbital offerings won't actually get you into space, which is defined as being 100 km (62 mi) from the Earth's surface, they may well satisfy these longings.
Enter World View Enterprises, a start-up company based in Tucson, Arizona that is trying to strike a new balance to entice space enthusiasts into the fold of space tourism. The company hopes that very its high altitude balloon flights will press enough of the right buttons that space-hungry enthusiasts will pony up $75K for a ride.