World View Enterprises plans to offer balloon flights into space for private citizens. The trip into the stratosphere would give passengers a great view of Earth and a unique experience.
Space.com reports that World View will carry a capsule containing six paying customers and two crew members to the edge of space using a huge helium balloon. The capsule containing the space tourists weighs about 10,000 pounds (over 4,300 kilograms). The complete flight will last between five and six hours. The first 90 to 120 minutes involve the ascent to the stratosphere as the capsule is carried slowly up and up the balloon. The balloon will then cruise at 100,000 feet for about two hours.
The return to Earth involves the separation of the balloon and the capsule. The capsule will be returned to Earth with the help of a device called a parafoil. World View has partnered with United Parachute Technologies (UPT) for the parafoil system. The companies announced earlier this year a successful flying of the first parafoil from the edge of space at a height of 102,200 earlier this year. This is right around the top height World View plans for its manned space tourist flights.
Space.com says World View’s goal is start launching paying customers into space by late 2017. Tickets will cost $75,000 per seat. World View provides this video that shows what a trip aboard one of its flights might be like. Take a look: