Space tourists can take an ‘eco-friendly’ balloon ride to orbit for £37,000

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Balloons have entered the space tourism race as tech company World View announced plans to float passengers to the edge of space in a silent manner.

Flying to the stratosphere in a balloon might make the most hardened passenger queasy but Ryan Hartman, the president and CEO of World View, says it’s very safe.

‘The ability to ascend to 100,000 feet and have a balloon that has zero pressure on it is really important,’ he said.

‘What that means is that the pressure on the inside is identical to the pressure on the outside and that being the case, if you have a hole in the balloon, it’s not like it’s going to pop or anything.

‘It’s not going to have any kind of massive impact. In fact, a hole in the balloon is not going to affect the performance of the flight for hours, if not days.’

Unlike hot air balloons, which rise using hot air, the space balloon is filled with helium which expands the balloon as it gets higher, which gives passengers a steadier uplift.

The balloons ascend to 100,000 feet (YouTube/World View)

Hartman said ‘I think what people are going to be most surprised about is just how gentle it actually is and just how peaceful it is when you’re ascending at 12 miles per hour and you’re slowly seeing the view expand. I don’t think there is a more peaceful way to rise above the planet.’

One of the things Hartman is most proud about is the company’s eco-friendly approach to space travel.

He said, ‘Our technology is a way to do this that is also earth-friendly.’

Passengers will rise gently at 12mph (YouTube/World View)

‘So it’s one thing to blast off to the edge of space in a rocket and view the Earth. I don’t believe you’re having a net-positive contribution to a healing planet, whereas using an approach where you’re using a natural resource from the Earth and not polluting as a result of it and then you bring people down that have a new-found respect for the planet, that is a net-positive contribution and that is our focus here.’

The experience is also designed to give passengers a radical new view of the planet and how it works.

‘Seeing the Earth as a living organism is seeing weather unfold, seeing the total devastation of a wildfire, seeing the devastation of the erosion of the Great Barrier Reef,’ Hartman said, adding ‘It’s not something you can see when you’re standing next to something, right? It’s not something you can see. I mean, you can see it on a very small scale but seeing it on a large scale is just a different perspective.’

As well as looking at Earth, passengers can gaze up into space (YouTube/World View)

The World View voyages will begin with passengers being able to see the wonders of the world from space from the Great Barrier Reef, Grand Canyon, The Great Wall of China, to the Serengeti, the Amazon, the Aurora Borealis and the pyramids at Giza.

However, the capsule attached to the balloon also allows passengers to look up and out into space.

There’s no weightlessness, but a fantastic view (YouTube/World View)

‘We wanted to enhance that experience by having windows above you while also having an old-fashioned telescope, where in broad daylight you can look up and look at planets and different stars in the galaxies,’ said Hartman.

Whereas other space tourism companies like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are offering seats for over $200,000 (£147,000), World View is offering tickets at $50,000 (£37,000).

The company is already taking deposits for upcoming trips (YouTube/World View)
It’s billed as an alternative to the likes of Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic (YouTube/World View)

This includes a five-day visit to their space port, which will gear passengers up for their flight.

The one element that the balloon experience won’t give passengers is weightlessness.

However, Hartman said ‘Our opinion is that weightlessness is a distraction from what the actual experience is which is viewing the curvature of the Earth, viewing it as a living organism, viewing the beauty of it, viewing the fragility of it, all of those things – that’s what our experience is all about.’

World View have already begun taking deposits of $500 (£367) for those interested in the balloon capsule and flights are set to begin in early 2024.

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