Arizona-based World View Enterprises plans to launch paying customers on stratospheric balloon rides by 2024. This illustration shows this goal.
Space tourists who are interested in becoming space tourists have another option.
World View Enterprises, a company based in Arizona, announced today (Oct. 4) that it is developing a balloon-based system to transport people into the stratosphere. The first commercial flights are expected to begin in 2024.
A typical ride lasts six to eight hours. Passengers will be taken to an altitude of minimum 100,000 feet (30,000.m), where they can see the curvature and contrast of the blackness of the space. Representatives from World View said that the experience will last five full days and will take place around natural beauty, cultural, and historical sites.
Related: World View plans to open a new market for stratospheric products
World View's Explorer capsule, which is powered by World View Enterprises, will be able to reach altitudes of more than 100,000 feet (3000 meters) during each flight. World View Enterprises, image credit
World View is determined to change the conversation about space tourism. Ryan Hartman, CEO of World View, stated that it is not a "joyride" but something much more. We are redefining space tourism by spending hours at the apogee (flight's highest point), and creating memories around some of Earth’s most amazing wonders.
The company's eight-passenger Explorer capsule, which is pressurized and holds eight people, sells for $50,000. This is significantly lower than what any other space-tourism outfit charges. World View representatives claim that the trip to the stratosphere is smooth enough to accommodate people of all ages and fitness levels.
Hartman stated, "By creating a spacetourism experience that is more affordable for more people, we hope to give as many people as possible the opportunity to see our planet at unprecedented new heights."
World View has already secured a customer to fly its first commercial crewed flight. Space For Humanity, a nonprofit organization, purchased all the seats for that first mission and will fill them up with citizen astronauts it will select and train.
Rachel Lyons, executive director at Space for Humanity stated in the same statement, "We are very excited to secure World View's initial commercial capsule."
Lyons stated that "our mission is to increase access to space for all" and, in doing so support the transformation of world's most ambitious leaders so that they can use their space experience to make positive changes here on Earth. This is a momentous time in space tourism and we look forward to giving more people an opportunity to experience it.
The Explorer capsule can carry eight passengers, and two employees (a concierge or operator/tour guide). Image credit: World View Enterprises
Space tourism with World View, take two
World View is not the first company to venture into space tourism. The company had announced plans to build a balloon-capsule system called Voyager nearly a decade ago. It would transport people into the stratosphere at $75,000 per person.
World View stated at the time that Voyager would be up and running by 2016. It didn't happen. Taber MacCallum, Jane Poynter and World View co-founders founded a new company, Space Perspective, in 2019. This company is currently developing its own balloon-capsule system called Spaceship Neptune. Space Perspective, a Florida-based company, hopes to start commercial tourist flights into the stratosphere by 2024. It is selling tickets for the vehicle at $125,000 per unit.
Voyager's Explorer plan has some similarities to Voyager's. Voyager can ascend with a giant balloon, but land on dry ground under a parasail. Spaceship Neptune will, however, not use a parasail and will return to Earth via ocean spraydowns. Hartman stated that Explorer isn't just Voyager rebranded.
Space.com interviewed him and he said that "the whole thing is different."
Hartman said that the new concept is based on Hartman's desire to foster an "inspirated perspective for a dramatically improved future". Hartman said that the company was motivated to create five-day immersive customer experiences at launch sites that are tourist attractions.
The first Explorer flights will depart from Page, Arizona (near the Grand Canyon), and take off as a result. Customers will be able to visit the Hopi and Navajo reservations nearby before settling in for a flight high above the famous canyon system.
World View will also lift off from six additional locations around the globe: Australia, Queensland, near Great Barrier Reef; Kenya, Norway; Amazonian Brazil, Mongolia, close to the Great Wall of China, and Egypt, near Giza Pyramid Complex.
Representatives from the company said that the Explorer flight experience would be luxurious. High-speed internet access, star-spotting telescopes and Earth-facing cameras will all be available in the capsule. Each flight will be operated by two World View employees, one as a concierge and one as an operator and guide. You will receive meals and drinks, including specially prepared cocktails. Yes, the ship will have a toilet.
Hartman stated that World View is still working on the Explorer capsule. Hartman said that the company has conducted four flights using the giant balloon designated for the project. The balloon can hold 17 million cubic feet (481 400 cubic meters) of gas when fully inflated.
Parasail and Explorer capsule will be reusable. Harman stated that the balloons won't be reusable, but they will be reused post-flight to benefit local communities.
Photos: The first space tourists
Explorer will spend 6-8 hours in the air on most flights and then land on Terra firm under a parafoil. Image credit: World View Enterprises
Space tourism takes off
World View is moving into an active and busy field that takes paying customers to many different altitudes.
World View and Space Perspective offer flights to the stratosphere. Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin offer trips to suborbital space. These are at altitudes of around 62 miles or 100 km. They do so aboard rocket-powered craft which requires deeper pockets. Virgin Galactic's ticket price at the moment is $450,000. Blue Origin has not yet announced its pricing but it's expected that it will be around the same as Virgin Galactic, or even more.
SpaceX has launched four people to the first ever all-private mission into Earth orbit. The flight was called Inspiration4 and used the Crew Dragon capsule. Jared Isaacman, a billionaire, booked Inspiration4 and took command. He has not disclosed how much he paid. If the prices paid by NASA for Crew Dragon flights to orbit the International Space Station can be believed, it was probably around $200 million.
SpaceX will launch a Crew Dragon mission to the space station in February. This crew will be managed by Houston-based Axiom Space. Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire, and a producer will travel to the orbiting laboratory aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in December. A Russian film crew will also be launching to the station on Oct. 5 aboard a Soyuz spacecraft, but Russia's federal agency Roscosmos appears to be paying at least some of that cost.
There's plenty going on. World View believes it can make a name for itself in space-tourism.
Hartman stated that he doesn't view this as a battle for market share. Hartman said that he sees it as an expansion of the ecosystem we all feel called to create.
World View already has extensive experience in stratospheric flight with its robotic balloon-based craft, called Stratollites. Stratollites can carry payloads high above the ground for extended periods of time, allowing customers to collect a wide range of remote-sensing information.
World View will continue to operate Stratollites but expects Explorer eventually to become its largest moneymaker.
Hartman stated that revenue-wise, space tourism will account for 65 to 70% of our business. "We are so excited about this company."