Tag Archives: high altitude balloons

New Florida company to offer stratospheric tourist balloon flights

Capitalism in space: A new Florida company dubbed Spac Perspective plans to offer six-hour-long tourist balloon flights to altitudes of 100,000 feet for $125,000 per ticket.

“Spaceship Neptune,” operated by a company called Space Perspective from leased facilities at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, will carry eight passengers at a time on six-hour flights. The passenger cabin, lifted by a huge hydrogen-filled balloon, will climb at a sedate 12 mph to an altitude of about 30 miles high. That will be followed by a slow descent to splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean where a recovery ship will be standing by to secure the cabin and crew.

Test flights carrying scientific research payloads are expected to begin in 2021. The first flights carrying passengers are expected within the next three-and-a-half years or so, with piloted test flights before that.

While the company initially will operate out of the Florida spaceport, the system could be launched from multiple sites around the world, with Hawaii and Alaska near-term possibilities.

The co-CEO of this company, Jane Poynter, had been the head of WorldView here in Tucson when that company was first planning to do tourist flights like this. She got pushed out a little over a year ago as the company shifted away from tourist flights to military surveillance, only to reappear now in Florida with a new company proposing the same thing.

All power to her. I hope this new company succeeds. It is offering a product at half the price of Virgin Galactic that is actually far superior (30 miles altitude for six hours vs 50 miles for five minutes).

NOTE: 100,000 feet elevation equals 30 kilometers, not 30 miles. I think the “30 mile” number in the quote is probably a mistake.

Chinese company gives live turtle a high altitude balloon flight

Capitalism in space: Chinese company has successful given a live turtle a high altitude balloon flight as prep for future tourism flights.

The news article is somewhat humorous in claiming the following:

Shenzhen-based Kuang-Chi Group said it blasted the yellow-headed turtle, nicknamed “Little Cloud”, to an altitude of 21,000 metres inside a helium-filled craft. The launch took place from western China’s Xinjiang region at about 4am on Wednesday morning.

The craft landed safely at about 8.28am the same day, and the turtle was said to have survived the trip.

The company said it was the first time a live animal had been safely taken into near space, and that the trip paved the way for it to sell commercial flights to humans by 2018 or 2019. [emphasis mine]

The company’s claim, highlighted above, is so incredibly not true it raises questions about their whole story. Humans have been taken by balloon to these elevations several times. This might be a poor translation, but then it indicates some incompetence by the reporter.

Either way, this company is aiming for the high altitude tourism market that World View in Tucson had initially been focusing on, but now seems to have abandoned.

Posted as we slog our way through Phoenix traffic.

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.