Another high altitude balloon company enters the space tourism market

Capitalism in space: Another high altitude balloon company, this time from Spain, is now vying for the space tourism market.

EOS-X Space, a Spanish startup, wants to take 10,000 people to the frontier of space within the next 10 years. With EOS-X Space, the journeys won’t be in rockets or ultrasonic planes. They’ll instead take place in a pressurized capsule propelled by a balloon that will rise to an altitude of up to 40 kilometers, or nearly 25 miles.

This means space tourists won’t have to wear a suit for the duration of the trip, nor will they have to do any physical preparation. Depending on the weather, each trip is set to last four or five hours.

They are targeting the same market as the American company Space Perspectives, which hopes to begin flying tourists on its stratospheric balloon, dubbed Neptune, by ’24.

Comparing the rocket vs balloon space tourism ride.

The competition heats up: Yahoo today published a 5 point comparison between a ride on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo and Worldview’s Voyager balloon.

The winner, Virgin Galactic, but by a nose. As the story notes, Worldview is the better buy. “You can use the money you save for a nice vacation on Earth — where you can make new friends by telling stores about that time you went to space.”

First test flight for balloon company

The competition heats up: Worldview has successfully completed the first unmanned test flight of its stratospheric passenger balloon.

The flight brought a remote-controlled, balloon-borne craft up to a height of 120,000 feet (36.5 kilometers) and back down to 50,000 feet (15 kilometers). Then the craft was cut loose from the balloon and guided to a soft landing using an innovative parafoil.

The test over Roswell, New Mexico, marked a world record for the highest parafoil flight, World View said.

World View’s Tycho prototype is just one-tenth the size of the pressurized capsule that the Arizona-based company plans to build for its Voyager tours. But Tycho’s maiden voyage put the system’s aerodynamics to a valuable initial test, said Taber MacCallum, who is World View’s co-founder and chief technology officer (as well as Poynter’s husband).

While these balloon tourist flights won’t go as high as the suborbital flights planned by Virgin Galactic, XCOR, and others, they will last far far longer and cost a third the price. They have already sold out their first three flights.