Space fans will soon be able to experience the ultimate thrill when a near-space balloon ride project starts operations in 2016.
Tuscan, Arizona-based World View Enterprises has already received approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration for its proposed balloon experiences, which will cost passengers from $75,000.
The company plans to begin flight testing as early as next year and cited New Mexico and Arizona as possible point of departure locations.
A single trip would take six passengers and two crew members on a two hour earth-gazing ride inside a pressurised capsule, which will be attached to a huge 400,000 cubic metre helium balloon that provides the lift needed to bring the capsule and its occupants to a 30km altitude.
The initial helium fill will reportedly require about 5000 cubic metres, and will cost about $50-60,000.The total surface area of the balloon is about 100,000sqm, but the total weight of the helium balloon is only around two tons as the high-density ultra-thin polyethylene is about 20 microns in thickness.
World View Enterprises has joined forces with Paragon Space Development Corporation and component testing is currently underway.