Tag Archives: World View

World View completes first Stratollite balloon launch from Tucson spaceport

Capitalism in space: World View today successfully completed the first launch from its Tucson spaceport of one of its Stratollite high altitude balloons.

None of the stories I have found have provided any real detail about the flight, so it is unclear what they accomplished, other than to demonstrate they can launch from the spaceport.

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World View test balloon flight cut short due to leak

The first test flight of World View’s Stratollite balloon, planned for 4 days, was ended after only 17 hours because of a leak in the balloon.

Though the mission was the longest yet for the balloon, and though they managed to test the attitude control, communications, and solar power systems, they need to find out why the balloon did not hold pressure as expected before they can begin flying missions lasting from months to even a year.

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World View launches chicken sandwich in test ballon flight

Capitalism in space: The first test flight of World View’s stratospheric balloon has begun, carrying with it as well a KFC chicken sandwich.

The sandwich is scheduled to remain aloft for four days and maintain an altitude of about 50,000 to 80,000 feet (15,200 to 24,400 meters). During the flight, which is serving as an advertising campaign for Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), the company will execute various activities to engage the public over social media, including a coupon drop, in which a coupon will literally be dropped from the balloon down to Earth. “The team on the ground here is justifiably celebrating as they watch their months of hard work pay off,” the video announcer said. “This is the greatest achievement in chicken sandwich space travel history. In all my years in this business I’ve certainly never seen anything like it. What a time to be alive.”

The Zinger-1 mission will serve as a test flight for World View, which aims to make stratospheric balloons that can remain in flight for months at a time. The flight is scheduled to be the first “extended-duration development flight of [World View’s] high-altitude Stratollite vehicle,” according to a statement from the company.

The chicken sandwich stuff is pure pr, and completely silly. It helped pay for the mission, however, which is not so silly.

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KFC pays to put chicken sandwich on four day World View shakedown flight

Capitalism in space: A publicity stunt by Kentucky Fried Chicken to sell a new chicken sandwich will help pay for the the first long shakedown of World View’s Stratollite balloon.

For World View Enterprises, the flight is expected to serve as a four-day shakedown cruise for its “Stratollite” system, which could eventually send military and commercial imaging payloads to the edge of the atmosphere for months at a time. “When KFC first brought this to us, we had a good chuckle,” World View CEO Jane Poynter told reporters during a teleconference today. But then the Arizona-based company realized there could be a serious point behind the project. “If you can fly a chicken sandwich to the edge of space … you can fly really just about anything,” Poynter said.

Besides, the payment that KFC is providing for the publicity will cover the cost of the test flight, including the expense of beaming down live HD video from a height of 60,000 to 75,000 feet, Poynter said.

Neither she nor KFC brand communications director George Felix would say precisely how much the fast-food chain is paying, but Felix said “we’re fully confident that this is going to be worth every penny.” For reference, NASA has paid World View as much as $440,000 for balloon test flights.

What is interesting to me is how World View appears to have significantly backed off its effort to sell and fly tourists on a balloon.

When World View was founded in 2013, the company’s main objective was to provide hours-long tours to the stratosphere in a pressurized Voyager capsule for $75,000 a ticket. Since then, World View has pivoted to the Stratollite concept, but it still intends to fly people someday. “We’re actually making huge progress,” Poynter said.

Poynter is no longer giving out a timetable for the start of Voyager tours, but she said two more Stratollite missions are scheduled for this summer. MacCallum, who is Poynter’s husband, said a full-scale mass simulator for the Voyager capsule is due to be flown by the end of the year.

All in all, the suborbital space tourism business appears, at least for now, to be fading, overwhelmed by the new and growing orbital launch industry.

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Democrats in Pima County vote to appeal World View court decision

The Pima County Board of Supervisors in Arizona has voted 3-2 on a party-line vote to appeal a judge’s decision that canceled the county’s deal with the space tourism balloon company World View because it violated state law.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to appeal a Superior Court decision which concluded the county violated state law when it signed an agreement and lease with World View, a space exploration company located near the Tucson International Airport.

The vote was along party lines, with the three Democrats voting for the appeal and the two Republicans voting against it.

The court ruled the county did not comply with a law which requires the county to appraise the property, hold a public auction, and negotiate a fair rental price before it agreed to build a $15 million complex for the company.

It seems to me that — rather than fight this in court — the smart thing to do here is to work out a new agreement that does not violate the law, something that the county was able to do with its lease agreements with Vector Space Systems. This apparently was what the Republicans on the board were proposing. Instead, the Democrats have chosen to fight, even though that will delay things further and is likely to fail in court anyway.

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Judge strikes down Tucson/Worldview spaceport deal

A deal between Pima County in Tucson Arizona and the space tourism balloon company World View has been struck down.

The Tucson judge sided with the libertarian Goldwater group, which argued Pima County ran afoul of state rules governing subsidies and incentives to businesses. “Judge Woods’ ruling protects Pima County taxpayers from having to foot the bill for World View’s untested business model,” said Jim Manley, senior attorney at the Goldwater Institute. “Instead of relying on a sweetheart deal from taxpayers, World View will need to pay market rates to lease its building, just like every other business in Pima County.”

Goldwater attorneys didn’t like that Pima County approved the deal without a popular ballot measure and that the deal was done without an appraisal. Goldwater also argued the lease deal was for less than market rates for a custom building. “The county is free to renegotiate the lease,” said Manley, “but only after they appraise the building, hold a public auction, and lease the building to the highest bidder. All of that will protect taxpayers from illegally subsidizing a private business.”

As much as I want this business to thrive, I think the Goldwater Institute was right. Pima County violated numerous laws and even some parts of the state constitution putting together this deal. Even if there was no corruption here, it opened the door to future backroom corruption if the deal was allowed. Now, I expect World View and the county will have to renegotiate.

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Lawsuit against Tucson and balloon company to proceed

A judge has ruled that 3 of 4 counts in a lawsuit against the deal between Tucson and the space balloon company World View can go forward.

The judge has also said that she will rule on the fourth count soon.

While the deal itself might be a great idea for Tucson, it does appear from the lawsuit that the city violated state laws in negotiating it. I suspect this suit to win eventually.

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Why the Goldwater Institute sued to block Tucson space deal

Link here.

The fundamental reason is that the Institute believes that, in signing its deal with World View to build its headquarters and launch site in Tucson, Pima County violated several laws as well as Arizona’s constitution. We are supposed to be a nation of laws, and thus government officials should not be allowed to violate those laws, even if they have the best of intentions.

I must say that, though I have no doubt that putting World Views space tourism balloon company in Tucson would be financially good for the city and Arizona, allowing elected officials to break the law to make deals with private companies is a very bad way to do it, and will in the end lead to far worse consequences.

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Pima county files motion to dismiss World View lawsuit

In the heat of competition: The Arizona county government that made a deal with the space tourism balloon company World View to help them build their launch facilities in Tucson has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit by the Goldwater Institute that claims the deal is illegal.

I don’t know if the deal was illegal, but I suspect that even if it was the county will win and the deal will go through. Too much money at stake.

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Money for space

The competition heats up: Three stories today about investors putting money into different space related business ventures are worth consolidating into one post, as they all indicate the same thing.

The first story involves a takeover by SES of the O3b satellite constellation that provides internet service globally. They already have 12 satellites in orbit, and have plans to launch 8 more by 2019. A partial list of their customers (Digicel Pacific, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, American Samoa Telecom, Speedcast, Rignet, Bharti International (Airtel), Timor Telecom, CNT Ecuador, Entel Chile and NOAA) illustrates the solidity of the company’s success, which is also why SES is spending $20 million to own it.

In the second two stories we find investment capital being committed for two different and unusual space-tourism-related companies. World View plans to launch high altitude balloons with passengers, taking them up 20 to 30 miles for a several hour journey on the edge of space. That they have secured an additional $15 million in investment even as their deal with the city of Tucson is being challenged in court indicates the confidence the investors have in their business.

SpaceVR is even more interesting. They plan to launch smallsats with cameras providing a 360 degree view, and link them to virtual reality headsets here on Earth. Consumers will then be able to experience being in space, without actually going. Though the press release does not specific how the product will be sold, it suggests that they are aiming for the education and museum market.

All three stories prove that the modern investment community, normally very adverse to high risk endeavors, is increasingly finding that the financial benefits of space travel and anything related to it are worth the financial risks. This fact can only lead to good things for the eventual development and exploration of space.

Moreover, the third story once again demonstrates the value of reducing the cost to get into orbit. SpaceVR’s idea is a very good one, but it couldn’t have happened before SpaceX forced a reduction in launch prices. Beforehand, no one could have afforded to buy the product because of the high cost to launch the satellites. Now, because the launch price is affordable, it can be marketed at a realistic price.

In other words, lower the price, and you increase the number of customers able to buy your product. I expect the rocket business to boom in the coming years.

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Tucson to be sued over space tourism deal

In the heat of competition: A think-tank has announced that it plans on suing the Tucson city government over its deal with the space tourism balloon company World View.

Jim Manley, Senior Attorney with the conservative think-tank Goldwater Institute in Phoenix, told us he’s filing the suit tomorrow on behalf of three Pima County residents. “We’re asking the court to put a stop to the World View deal and all of the deals that come out of it.”

Manley calls the World View deal “illegal” for, among other things, violating Arizona’s Gift Clause. He says, “What the Gift Clause requires is that money be spent for a public purpose, and that the government receive fair compensation in return.” The lawsuit will also state the deal violates competitive bidding laws, because, Manley says, it was negotiated in secret, with no public bidding.

As much as I think it smart of the city government to try to encourage this business to settle in Tucson, I know, living here in Tucson, that a taint of corruption lingers over the city’s very liberal government. It would not surprise me if this deal includes some of that.

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World View gets incentives to settle in Arizona

The competition heats up: The space tourism balloon company World View has obtained $15 million in subsidies from an Arizona county to base their operation in Tucson.

Today’s go-ahead from the Pima County Board of Supervisors represents an initial step toward setting up the tourist operation. The supervisors voted to invest $15 million, backed by future tax revenue, to build the spaceport. World View would lease the facility from the county over a 20-year term to pay back the investment. The facility would include a launch pad, headquarters building and manufacturing facility, World View said.

Increasingly it looks like Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo is being left in the dust as other companies move forward with their own plans.

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A new company is now offering balloon flights to the edge of space for one third the price of a suborbital flight.

The competition heats up: A new company is now offering balloon flights to the edge of space for one third the price of a suborbital flight.

World View passengers will soar to an altitude of about 30 kilometers (about 100,000 feet) — far short of SpaceShipTwo’s intended 110-kilometer (68-mile) high peak. Inside the capsule there will be little sensation of microgravity. Rather, the whole point of the ride is the view. “You can be sitting up there having your beverage of choice watching this extraordinary spectacle of the Earth below you and the blackness of space,” project co-founder and Paragon president Jane Poynter told Discovery News. “It really is very gentle. You can be up at altitude for hours, for days for research if you need to be… I think we have the opportunity to give a really, really incredible experience to people — and for a lot less than most of what’s out on the market right now,” she said.

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