Capitalism in space: World View’s first test flight of its stratollite high altitude balloon out of its Tucson launch site has successfully achieved a five day mission.
The vehicle hovered between 55,000 and 75,000 feet, while successfully testing out equipment designed to steer the balloon and keep it relatively stable at the same spot. Onboard were a 50.6-megapixel Canon EOS 5DS camera to do Earth observations, as well as communications equipment from the US military’s Southern Command. The military is interested in using the stratollite to look for human and drug trafficking, as well as maritime piracy.
World View says it’s going to bring down the stratollite sometime today, after hitting all of its critical milestones. “This is an enormous leap in our development program and we are certain the stratollite is going to forge a new path in how we observe, react to and collect data about our planet,” Jane Poynter, CEO of World View, said in a statement.
It is pretty clear that World View has shifted its focus from high altitude tourist flights in a balloon to high altitude reconnaissance and research flights, suggesting that they found the customer demand for the tourist flights at $75,000 each to be weak.