Arizona startup plans to send tourists to the edge of space using high-altitude helium BALLOONS

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In just a few years, wealthy tourists could see themselves taking a relaxing trip to the edge of space, towed by a high-altitude, helium-filled balloon. World View Enterprises has been honing its flight system over the last few years ahead of plans to send passengers to more than 100,000 feet above Earth’s surface


In just a few years, wealthy tourists could see themselves taking a relaxing trip to the edge of space, towed by a high-altitude, helium-filled balloon.

World View Enterprises has been honing its flight system over the last few years ahead of plans to send passengers to more than 100,000 feet above Earth’s surface, with tickets costing roughly $75,000 a pop.

The firm has faced both successes and setbacks in recent memory; in a bizarre PR stunt with KFC last June, World View sent a Zinger chicken sandwich into the stratosphere, before suffering an explosion at the launch site just a few months later, in December 2017.

Still, World View has conducted over 50 flights in the last year, and once manned missions begin, proponents of system say it will be ‘peaceful ride you could imagine.’

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In just a few years, wealthy tourists could see themselves taking a relaxing trip to the edge of space, towed by a high-altitude, helium-filled balloon. World View Enterprises has been honing its flight system over the last few years ahead of plans to send passengers to more than 100,000 feet above Earth’s surface

Alan Eustace, a computer scientist and former VP at Google, says a ride with one of the balloons could make high-altitude travel far more pleasant than those conducted via rocket launch.

‘It’s will be a beautiful experience,’ Eustace told Bloomberg.

Back in 2015, the then-Google exec completed a record-breaking free fall from about 136,000 feet, relying on a balloon and suit developed by World View over the course of three years.

Unlike the noise and intense vibrations of a rocket, the balloon rides are quiet.

‘This will appeal to a huge number of people that want to see things from a different perspective,’ Eustace told Bloomberg.

‘That’s all I can really say. You know something is good when it’s almost impossible to describe.’

At the moment, the firm primarily conducts missions for the US government, including a recent effort to fly a military imaging system from Arizona to Mexico

Soon, they hope to be carrying private customers. Earlier this year, they raked in $26.5 million in a financing round, with major investments from Canaan and Norwest Venture Partners

At the moment, the firm primarily conducts missions for the US government, including a recent effort to fly a military imaging system from Arizona to Mexico. Soon, they hope to be carrying private customers. Earlier this year, they raked in $26.5 million in a financing round, with major investments from Canaan and Norwest Venture Partners

The manned flights will be conducted with its Voyager capsules, giving passengers a 360-degree view of Earth from more than 100,000 feet above the surface. World View completed tests with a scaled down, replica spacecraft at a final altitude of 100,475 feet (30624 meters) back in 2015

The manned flights will be conducted with its Voyager capsules, giving passengers a 360-degree view of Earth from more than 100,000 feet above the surface. World View completed tests with a scaled down, replica spacecraft at a final altitude of 100,475 feet (30624 meters) back in 2015

At the moment, the firm primarily conducts missions for the US government, including a recent effort to fly a military imaging system from Arizona to Mexico.

Soon, they hope to be carrying private customers. Earlier this year, they raked in $26.5 million in a financing round, with major investments from Canaan and Norwest Venture Partners.

‘World View has set its sights on creating an entirely new economic sector in the stratosphere,’ said Sameer Gandhi, a partner at Accel, who led the recent financing round.

‘World View’s proven technology offers a unique and low-cost access to the space environment, and we share World View’s belief that innovation in the stratosphere has the potential to unlock many new applications with unprecedented benefit.’

The manned flights will be conducted with its Voyager capsules, giving passengers a 360-degree view of Earth from more than 100,000 feet above the surface.

World View completed tests with a scaled down, replica spacecraft at a final altitude of 100,475 feet (30624 meters) back in 2015.

‘This sub-scale test flight demonstrated foundational technologies necessary for regular, operational flight, and proves that commercial flight to the edge of space via high-altitude balloon will serve as a viable and major form of transport in the emerging private space travel industry,’ the firm said at the time.

The flight launched from Page, Arizona, one of the locations from where World View plans to fly Voyagers to the edge of space.

World View has conducted over 50 flights in the last year, and once manned missions begin, proponents of system say it will be ‘peaceful ride you could imagine’

In a bizarre PR stunt with KFC last June, World View sent a Zinger chicken sandwich into the stratosphere

The firm has faced both successes and setbacks in recent memory; in a bizarre PR stunt with KFC last June, World View sent a Zinger chicken sandwich into the stratosphere, before suffering an explosion at the launch site just a few months later, in December 2017

WHAT WILL FLIGHTS ON WORLD VIEW’S BALLOON-TOWED VOYAGER CRAFT BE LIKE?

World View's Voyager craft has windows on all sides for the perfect 360-degree view

World View’s Voyager craft has windows on all sides for the perfect 360-degree view

With windows on all sides, guests above the Voyager will be given 360-degree vistas of the curvature of the world below.

Of course, the flight of the Voyager doesn’t reach the official boundary of space, which stands at 62 miles (100 kilometres), but it will still enable passengers to see Earth fall away beneath them.

Upon completion of the flight, the parafoil detaches from the high-altitude balloon and glides the capsule back safely to a landing on Earth.

According to the company, the capsule will also give ‘unprecedented and affordable access to the near-space environment’ for educators, researchers, private companies and government agencies.

‘We couldn’t be any more excited about the results from this test flight,’ said Jane Poynter, CEO of World View.

‘It represents a foundational achievement that moves us one step closer to offering a life-changing experience to our Voyagers.’

The test flight represented the maiden voyage of World View’s Tycho vehicle, a reusable commercial craft that enables research opportunities in fields including communications, surveillance, remote sensing and first response.

‘While each individual system has been analyzed and extensively tested in previous test flights, this significant milestone allowed us to test and prove all critical flight systems at once,’ Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder Taber MacCallum said after the tests.

‘Now we’re ready for the next major phase of development – full scale system testing.’

For full scale flight tests, World View will use a flight test article with mass and aerodynamics equivalent to the Voyager spacecraft.

The final capsule will be comfortably styled, offering Wi-Fi, a bar and a lavatory for Voyagers as they float along the edge of space for one-to-two hours at peak altitude of 100,000 feet.





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