Tucson-based World View to offer balloon rides to space

World View plans to start taking passengers to the outermost edge of earth’s atmosphere in high-altitude balloons by 2018. (Photo courtesy of World View)

World View’s capsules will give voyagers a unique view of Earth.
(Photo courtesy of World View)

A pressurized flight capsule is transported by a high-altitude balloon to more than 100,000 feet above Earth. (Photo courtesy of World View)

Tucson – Space, a place that seems foreign to us earthlings, could be the next hot trip destination for the public. One Tucson-based company plans to offer space tourism in two years.

“The sun comes up. You see these amazing colors,” said Taber MacCallum, World View chief technology officer. “Our cameras have captured some phenomenal sunrises from the edge of space.”

World View specializes in high-altitude balloon flights they use for scientific research. MacCallum said they plan to expand to their services to the public.

“One of the things we want to do is offer people a way to change their world view – not only by going to the edge of space, but by providing instrumentation and scientific ways of understanding our Earth with unmanned balloons as well,” MacCallum said.

A capsule attached to the balloon will carry six passengers and two crewmembers as they float 100,000 feet up to the stratosphere. The trip takes several hours to complete.

“The balloon we’re using is known as a zero pressure and that just has to do with differential pressure of the atmosphere,” said Eli Todd, World View manufacturing technician.

As the balloon leaves Earth, the gas inside it will expand and lift the capsule. It will expand so much that a football stadium could fit inside the balloon once fully inflated.

And don’t worry, there’s Wi-Fi on the capsule as well.

“You see the terminus of light coming below you, lighting up the ground, watching morning happen on our Earth,” MacCallum said. “Hangout there for a few more hours, have a drink at the bar, ultimate status update on Facebook.”

But, this adventure of a lifetime comes with a price – $75,000 per person to be exact.

World View plans on launching its first manned flights in 2018 out of Tucson and possibly Page.