Space Tourism: Are you ready to go to space in a hot air balloon?

Do you dream of flying in space, but don’t have $55 million to buy a seat in one of billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX rockets, or even $450,000 to get into one of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic machines? American startup World View offers you a trip to the stratosphere for a modest $50,000. Space Perspective, its competitor, is priced at $125,000 for a similar adventure.

Instead of a rocket, eight passengers and one or two pilots would be transported in a pressurized capsule attached to a huge gas-filled balloon. It will rise at a peaceful pace of 19 kilometers per hour to about thirty kilometers above sea level, three times the height of an airliner, but well below the edge of space, fixed at around 100 kilometers. So don’t expect to do a headstand in zero gravity. However, the height will be enough to provide a breathtaking view of the Earth and space.

In any case, the trip is more like flying in a first-class plane than the adrenaline ordeal of Thomas Pesce. This should take about six hours – two hours upstairs, two hours in the air and two hours downstairs. The very chic round capsule is “a thousand leagues from the white and utilitarian environment of other rockets,” says Jane Poynter, co-founder of Space Perspective. In addition to panoramic views, there is Wi-Fi, cameras, toilets and even a bar where you can sip champagne while lying on ergonomic chairs. “Every self-respecting spaceship has a bar,” she says.

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Flight over the pyramids of Egypt

World View plans to launch over the Grand Canyon, then over the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China… The $47 million Space Perspective launches from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The big difference between the two startups is the technology used. The World View balloon is inflated with helium and returns to the take-off point, controlled by the wings of a paraglider. Its competitor uses hydrogen, and landing will be at sea. Helium is a non-renewable resource that is in great demand in medicine in particular, and therefore more expensive. But hydrogen, while more readily available, is highly flammable, as evidenced by the explosion of the Hindenburg airship in 1937 that killed 35 people.

The Space Perspective balloon, unlike the World View, uses hydrogen.

The Space Perspective balloon, unlike the World View, uses hydrogen.


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The first flights are scheduled for 2024. World View has recorded over a thousand bookings. “The fact that Grand Canyon launches are already full in their first year demonstrates the market demand and growing interest in space tourism,” says Ryan Hartman, its CEO. Since the billionaire trio of Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos launched the first space tourism flights in recent months, dozens of startups have taken an interest in the sector, which could be worth around $3 billion by 2030. UBS bank. Do all these flights still need to be approved by the FAA?


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