Space tourism is sprouting and it promises to bloom over the coming decades. While the super-rich can easily afford a ticket to space, others may find a cheaper alternative flying to space in a balloon.
1. World View
The service is being offered by the leading stratospheric ballooning and space tourism company World View. Unlike the exorbitant prices being asked by other space companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin, for just $500 (€468) up front it’s possible to reserve a seat on a balloon headed for the upper atmosphere with World View. A tourist seat won’t cost less than $50,000 (€46,000), still, a bargain when compared to the millions being asked by other space companies betting on tourism beyond Earth.
We exist to inspire and create and explore new perspectives for a radically improved future.Ryan Hartman, World View CEO, told the British newspaper The Sun
After having launched hundreds of test flights, the company hopes to be lifting off tourists by 2024 in a balloon that will expand to nearly 1 km in diameter at its highest point. Before lifting-off, the company will allow its travellers to explore the ground and the history of the departing locations during five days before finally taking off from a nearby World View space port.
The space company has chosen seven symbolic locations, spanning all continents: the Grand Canyon (USA), the Amazon (Brazil), in Norway, where tourists will have the chance of witnessing a spectacular Aurora Borealis, the Giza Pyramids (Egypt), the Serengeti (Kenya), the Great Wall of China (Mongolia) and the Great Barrier Reef (Australia).
The lift-off consists of a smooth procedure, with the sophisticated balloon being slowly lifted during a two-hour ascent. The balloon does not travel to space, meaning that it does not leave Earth’s atmosphere. Tourists aboard will not be considered astronauts nor will they experience zero gravity — weightlessness. World View expeditions travel about 32km above the surface, whereas space “begins” between 80 and 96km from the surface.
3. “Overview effect”
Hovering at over 3,048km in a helium-powered balloon, World View offers its customers the opportunity to see the Earth and the stars of deep space with a view unobstructed by the atmosphere. Tourists will experience the ‘overview effect’ — an emotional and cognitive shift caused by seeing our planet from above — a sensation that World View believes to be so powerful that changes people in feeling a greater connection with the planet and wanting to protect it.
After viewing our planet from space, many astronauts have experienced overwhelming feelings of awe, transcendence and connection with humanity as a whole. It is called the Overview Effect. Every detail of our stratospheric spaceflight is designed to share this transformational experience – and a deeper bond to the beautiful place we call home.World View on its website.
Adrien Grenier is known for starring as Vincent Chase on Entourage but at World View he serves as the Chief Earth Advocate. After the flight comes back to Earth, Grenier will receive the passengers: “I get to welcome people back to Earth, and allow them to rediscover their relationship with the planet.”
Other space companies are betting on balloons to take travellers to space. The company Space Perspective is investing on luxury balloons and is asking $125,000 (€117,000) per seat.