Company Says It’s Successfully Tested A Space-Tourism Balloon That Floats 20 Miles Above Earth

Maybe you don’t have $200,000 to climb aboard one of Virgin Galactic’s planned space tourism flights in the future, or maybe you’d prefer to float over the Earth like Dorothy in a balloon. That’s the goal of one company, which says it’s successfully tested its space-tourism balloon.

While it’s not exactly a Millenium Falcon set-up, World View Enterprises wants to offer space tourists a view of the world from 20 miles in the air with its high-altitude balloon and capsule, reports CBS Las Vegas, enough for people to see the curve of the Earth.

The company said this week that it launches its first small-scale test flight of the balloon last week from Roswell, N.M., claiming the world record for highest parafoil flight while toting a payload to 120,000.

“It went really, really, really well,” CEO Jane Poynter said. “Actually, the guys hit the ball out of the park. We’re thrilled.”

It’s the first time the company has tested all the parts together, but using a balloon about a third of the size of the one that will eventually carry passengers, and a payload of one-tenth of what’ll be needed with people onboard.

And hey, it’ll only cost $75,000 per person for flights starting in 2016. Such a discount from $200,000 — oh, who am I kidding? I’m not going to afford that thing and neither are you. I’m sure someone will Instagram it or Flarbernarber it or whatever the current popular social media is then.

The company says in filings to the Federal Aviation Administration that it wants to launch passengers from Spaceport America in New Mexico, the same place Richard Branson is planning to send his rocketships up 62 miles into space on shorter flights.

As for competing with Virgin Galactic, Poynter says it’s a non-issue.

“I don’t think anyone considers us in a race,” she said of commercial space flight. “We don’t consider us in competition because the experience is so completely different.”

Arizona Company Successfully Tests Space-Tourism Balloon [CBS Las Vegas]