World View Opens Reservations With Lower-Cost Space Tourism Pitch
Stratospheric balloon operator World View is jumping into the space tourism industry, with the Tucson, Arizona-based company announcing Oct. 4 it is accepting deposits for its “edge-of-space” trips to an altitude of 100,000 ft.
With an initial deposit of $500, participants can reserve a spot, which is priced at $50,000 per seat. The five-day experience for up to eight participants (and two crew) will launch from “seven wonders” spaceports to be opened, starting with the nearby Grand Canyon in early 2024.
After the Grand Canyon, spaceport locations, in order of projected opening date, include: the Great Barrier Reef, Australia; Serengeti, Kenya; Aurora Borealis, Norway; Amazonia, Brazil; Giza Pyramids, Egypt; and the Great Wall of China via Mongolia.
Along with being less expensive, World View hopes to distinguish itself by providing longer-lasting experiences than rocket-oriented competitors that offer a top-of-flight experience for passengers that lasts minutes, albeit at much higher altitudes. World View said its flights will lift participants in a zero-pressure stratospheric balloon and pressurized space capsule to nearly 23 miles into the stratosphere in a experience that will last 6-12 hours.
“World View’s ambition is to change the conversation around space tourism. It’s not just a joyride, it’s so much bigger and more important than that,” said Ryan Hartman, World View president and CEO. “We’re redefining space tourism for participants by spending hours at apogee, building memories around some of Earth’s most magnificent wonders.”
World View also announced that Space for Humanity, a nonprofit organization with a mission that reflects expanding access to space for humans, “secured the first commercial flight,” which will take a cohort of “citizen astronauts” to be selected by the organization.
“Our mission is to expand access to space to all and in doing so, support the transformation of our world’s most ambitious leaders so they can use their experience in space to create positive change here on Earth,” said Rachel Lyons, executive director of Space for Humanity. “This is a groundbreaking time for space tourism and we’re looking forward to giving more people the opportunity to experience it for themselves.”
Eight-year-old World View has been developing its Stratollite balloon platform for a variety of applications, from tourism to research flights. The tourism operation will use what the company calls the Explorer Space Capsule. An earlier Voyager capsule apparently envisioned only six passengers and two crew.
The company previously had landed contracts with the U.S. Defense Department for remote-sensing and communications trials. World View previously believed that by 2019 it would be routinely flying government missions as well as some commercial payloads for asset monitoring, flying single Stratollites and constellations.
World View’s roots stem from Paragon Space Development, which worked with the Stratospheric Explorer Space Dive team in 2014 to help skydiver and Google executive Alan Eustace achieve a record-breaking jump from a height of more than 135,900 ft. over Roswell, New Mexico.