Skip to main content

Space travel: U.S. company to offer 30 km-high balloon flights

By Hiufu Wong, CNN
October 24, 2013 -- Updated 0653 GMT (1453 HKT)
Arizona-based World View Enterprises plans to take travelers to the edge of space with a balloon and thinks it will look something like this. Arizona-based World View Enterprises plans to take travelers to the edge of space with a balloon and thinks it will look something like this.
HIDE CAPTION
"Affordable" space travel
Room with a view
Ready to land
The air up there
<<
<
1
2
3
4
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Arizona-based company plans trip to the edge of space in a "luxury capsule"
  • Lifted by a high altitude balloon, the capsule will travel to a height of about 30 kilometers
  • The first flight is expected to take off in three years

(CNN) -- Want space travel but don't have pockets deep enough for Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic or the courage levels to match Felix Baumgartner, the daredevil space-jumper? A balloon trip to (almost) space and back might just be the answer.

Arizona-based space travel company World View Enterprises says it plans to offer a trip to the edge of space in a luxurious eight-seat capsule for $75,000 per ticket.

It's somewhat more affordable considering Virgin Galactic charges $250,000, which also includes three days of training and two and a half hours in space.

The capsule will be lifted by a high altitude balloon that will rise up to about 30 kilometers (98,425 feet or almost 20 miles) and stay aloft for two hours before returning back to Earth, according to a company press statement.

Quiz: Do you have the smarts to be a space tourist?

That is not as high as Baumgartner's jumping point (128,100 feet or around 39 kilometers) last year but much higher than one can usually reach -- the average altitude for commercial flights is about nine or ten kilometers above ground, or 30,000 to 40,000 feet.

"Passengers will be among the few to have seen the curvature of the Earth with their own eyes," the statement touted.

"They will be able to gaze at the astounding views, the blackness of space, the brilliance of stars and the thin veil of atmosphere enveloping our planet."

The first flight is planned for 2016.

Component testing has already begun and sub-scale testing will soon be carried out as well, the company says.

The space capsule will be developed by Paragon Space Development Corporation, which is developing technology for Inspiration Mars, a 501-day mission around Mars.

Zero gravity flights: cheaper than space travel

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1001 GMT (1801 HKT)
Photographer gives Hong Kong skyscrapers a radical new look.
August 16, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
A cage-free shark photographer gets up close and personal with the ocean's most feared predators.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1428 GMT (2228 HKT)
Conde Nast Traveler reader survey praises antipodean cities but gives South Africa's biggest city a wide berth.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 0122 GMT (0922 HKT)
After the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Canal, here are 10 other ways to fall in love with the country.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 0349 GMT (1149 HKT)
In Taiwan, tourists pay to ride along in local cabs, letting fate -- and locals fares -- decide where they'll go.
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 2048 GMT (0448 HKT)
It's largely devoid of human life, dark, cold and subject to dangerous levels of geological volatility -- the Arctic is surely the worst possible destination for an arts festival.
Zurich, Switzerland
It may be Switzerland's banking capital, but Zurich's real wealth lies in the village-like charm of its cobbled streets and Alpine scenery.
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 1854 GMT (0254 HKT)
We've all wondered what it's like to die. Now an outfit in Shanghai says it can provide the experience.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 0115 GMT (0915 HKT)
Our special report details who, what and how much it takes to bring you the best in IFE (we'll explain).
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 0632 GMT (1432 HKT)
What pizza is to New York and the cheesesteak is to Philly, the food truck has become to Los Angeles -- essential
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 0903 GMT (1703 HKT)
If you've ever clicked on a list of forests to see before you die, chances are you've already seen a photo of this stunner.
August 8, 2014 -- Updated 0018 GMT (0818 HKT)
The military coup in Thailand has led to a massive change in Phuket, weeding out decades of misuse and abuse at one of the world's most popular holiday destinations.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 0956 GMT (1756 HKT)
With a mix of Indian, African, French and Chinese influences, Mauritius represents a cultural smorgasbord.
August 8, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
There's nothing like high drama on a beach.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 0957 GMT (1757 HKT)
Home to big game, sparkling beaches, and stunning sunsets, Malawi makes for an idyllic travel destination.
ADVERTISEMENT