Ever want to take a trip into space? Everyone has heard about Virgin’s space shuttle plans. In reality who can really afford that kind of trip? Only the super-rich can afford the price tag for a spot on one of those shuttle rides, even if it is a once in a life time opportunity. Now a company in Arizona wants to offer the chance to see the stars without having to sell your eldest child into slavery forever (only a few years). Instead of taking a shuttle into space, you get to enjoy a ride in a hot air balloon to the edge of the world.
Paragon Space Development Corporation is working to build just such a contraption. This fully enclosed hot air balloon would allow passengers to soar to the edge of the atmosphere and back. Of course, you won’t be able to go into outer space in this fancy balloon but you will be able to see the vastness of space and look down to see the curve of the world. At an altitude of about 100,000 feet (roughly 19 miles) you get to see it all and experience the feeling of weightlessness that the astronauts feel.
During your six-hour tour you can move around the “cabin” and view the spectacular sights that one can only experience by going into space. The bonus, unlike regular space flights you don’t have to wear oxygen masks or space suits. This hot air balloon is going to be completely enclosed and designed to resist the extreme temperatures of near space travel. The balloon’s capsule also shields you from radiation and micro-meteoroids.
The ticket for one of these near-space rides is projected to be around $75,000 a far cry from Virgin’s $250,000 ticket… but also a far cry for, well, just about everyone. While it still may be out of the budget for some adventurers there is a hope that some of these flights may carry scientific equipment to help lower the cost for the consumer and spread the expenses around to government agencies.
You may not go into the vastness of space, but you will get to travel to the edge of the world. There is no special equipment to wear or training to endure. Simply sit back and enjoy the ride.
[via Wall Street Journal ]