Company takes test flight to the least-crowded tourism hot spot: space


Wish you were here? Parafoil at an altitude of 50,000 feet. (Courtesy of World View)

Looking for a new summer travel destination? How about 120,000 feet off the ground? So relaxing!

You might be able to book it in a few years. According to the Associated Press, an Arizona company has succeeded in its test flight of a balloon-and-capsule system, sending the parafoil more than 20 miles into the air. The June 18 trip from the Roswell International Air Center was one small step for World View Enterprises, which wants to give tourists a chance to check out the Earth’s curve (for the low, low price of $75,000).

Here’s a video from World View about the test flight:

“Launching in 2016, World View will have Voyagers floating peacefully to the edge of space for a two-hour sailing-like experience within a luxuriously engineered pressurized capsule transported by a parafoil and high-altitude balloon,” the company said in a news release. “Guests will enjoy 360-degree vistas of the world’s most spectacular panorama, marveling at the beauty of the Earth below, watching the sun slowly rise above the curvature of our planet suspended in a vast, black and infinite universe.”

Who among us hasn’t wanted to unwind with a sweet view of the vast, black and infinite universe? It’s about as far off the grid as you can get, basically.

For comparative purposes, the distance of last week’s World View test flight was in the ballpark of Felix Baumgartner’s October 2012 space dive. (Baumgartner went up about 128,000 feet before his jump.)

World View joins Richard Branson’s Virgin in the space (tourism) race. World View would be the “budget” option, however; Virgin Galactic flights will reportedly cost about $250,000.

Sarah Larimer is a general assignment reporter for the Washington Post.
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