A balloon to the beyond: saving space tourism

Posted by K R on

Jane Poynter wants you to take a trip to space that's as comfortable as a luxury cruise. She's spent two years living in the sealed research lab Biosphere 2, and serves as president of Paragon Space Development Corporation, where she led development of the life-support systems for the 2018 Inspiration Mars mission. Now, as CEO of World View, she's been developing a solution for space tourism that relies on a huge helium balloon, not rockets. That means no training necessary, no dealing with the uncomfortable effects of heavy G-force acceleration and a trip that lasts four to six hours. The balloon takes six passengers (along with two crew members) up 20 miles in a capsule -- high enough that you can see the curvature of the Earth, but 40 miles below sub-orbital space. And while tickets are expensive at $75,000 a pop, they're still significantly cheaper than alternatives like Virgin Galactic, which will run you $250,000. Below, check out our conversation with Poynter about World View's progress so far, and her dream of making everyone realize we're all traveling together on a spaceship called Earth. What got you interested in this particular angle for space tourism? We haven't seen anyone tackle something like this before. That's one of the reasons it's so interesting! I've been involved in commercial spaceflight in some form or another for my entire career. In all of that time, we've been talking about how do we make space really accessible to people ... While rocket flight is incredible, and it'll take people to places in the solar system, balloon flight affords so much comfort. It's gentler and it's safer. It opens the door to so many more people being able to go to space than I believe is really possible with rockets. Full interview via Engadget.

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