Touring space becomes a reality following successful testing

Tourists may soon be able to travel to the edge of space, thanks to a small company in Tucson, Arizona.

Although Richard Branson is the name most often associated with space flights, a company called World View is working on trips to space via hot air balloon. Many people would associate balloons with leisurely balloon flights, but it is likely that the organisation will be taking paying passengers to space by 2017.

Recently the space flight company successfully completed a test flight, which proved to be a huge milestone in the rigorous testing programme. According to the company, the initiative is on track for offering space flights to paying tourists.

During the testing procedure, a scaled down, unmanned space capsule was flown to a height of 100,475 feet, using a helium filled balloon. Passengers on the flight would be able to view the earth’s curvature as well as the sunrise against a star filled black sky. Once the balloon had reached its destination, it was released from the capsule, which was safely returned using a parafoil, which the company has named a ParaWing. This important piece of equipment makes it possible for the capsule to glide back down to safety.

The priority for World View is to produce an accurate landing which is as gentle as possible for passengers. Although challenges have been faced by the company, CEO Jane Poynter states that they have all been solved and it is likely that a full size capsule will be tested in the near future. Passengers will fly to space in luxury, as the capsule will be equipped with a lavatory, a bar and Wi-Fi.

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