Soon, you won’t have to be an astronaut to fly to outer space.
By 2016, the Tucson-based space flight company known as World View will be sending people to the edge of space.
At $75,000 per seat including a $5,000 security deposit, the company doesn’t cater to everyone, but World View CEO Jane Poynter says for those who can afford it, it will be worth every dime.
“You will get the trip of a lifetime,” she said. “This is something that really, until now, people couldn’t do. The view is something that is out of this world.”
Using proprietary high-altitude balloons and a space capsule that seats six guests and two crewmembers, World View flies guests 20 miles, or about 105,000 feet upward, giving them a view of the Earth that they’ve likely only seen in pictures on the web.
“It’s a gentle, and luxurious ride that we talk about as something that will be a life-changing experience,” said Poynter.
With the enormous, helium-filled balloon, the flight gently lifts off at ground level and ascends for about one and a half to two hours, reaching about the top 99 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere. Once at altitude, guests will enjoy about two hours of panoramic views, of which they will be allowed to take and share photographs of the visual rarity while experiencing what has become known as the “Overview Effect,” a certain emotional reaction and perspective shift that comes from seeing Earth from space.
A sister company to Paragon Space Development Corporation, World View began its preliminary work in 2011. Along with the recreational opportunity the space voyages will provide, guests will have the benefit of experiencing educational opportunities. As such, World View also caters to those traveling for research or scientific pursuits.
Comparatively, a ride on World View is quite a bit less expensive to perform than alternatives, estimated to cost 1/600th the price of a typical flight to the International Space Station, and 30 times less expensive than on a Black Brant sounding rocket.
While an age limit for participation has not yet been concretely established, Poynter said it would be most fitting to only accept children age six or older.
Poynter added that trips will be designed for convenience.
“We are aiming at no training required,” she said. “If you can get on a commercial aircraft, you should be able to get onto our flight.”
In the first year of operation, flights will be maxed out at one per week, though, depending on demand, increased flights might be considered down the road.
As for safety, World View has taken a number of precautions in their designs, including a ParaWing that remains open the entire flight, allowing the capsule to glide down to Earth at any time. There is also a backup parachute, as well as a ground crew that can fully operate the vehicle. Dual-paned windows and a life support system are intended to protect and counteract unlikely leaks.
The entire trip is estimated to last five to six hours.