Space fans will be able to fly high enough to see the curvature of our planet for 90 minutes.
At the end of June, World View tested a 1/10th scale model of its planned balloon-driven space flight system. The model reached its intended altitude, floated at the edge of space, was able to capture images of the curvature of the Earth, descend, deploy its return flight guidance system and land at its intended landing spot.
The balloon rose to about 23 miles above the Earth. A long way from the 62 miles where scientists argue that space begins, but high enough that you can see the curvature of the planet and much of its surface against the blackness of space.
This could make for something more than a story to tell friends and family. Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell changed his whole life after seeing the Earth from space. He has since devoted his life to understanding what happened to him up there. Mitchell spoke People Magazine in 1974, “You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it.” Journalist Steve Volk interviewed Mitchell for his 2012 book, Fringeology, and Mitchell reports that most astronauts he knows experienced something up there that’s unlike anything they had experienced on mother Earth, though many of them are reluctant to talk about it publicly.
Another person who has talked about their space experience publicly was Ultima creator and America’s first second generation astronaut, Richard Garriott, who self-financed a trip to the heavens aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. In his talk at the World Science Festival in 2010, he describes the profound experience:
World View will not go high enough that a person will be able to see the whole planet in one view, but they will see a lot of it, and they will have a long time to look. So what will happen when many more people than ever before are able to have this experience?
Will this experience compete with the different rocket based ships being planned, or will it simply whet people’s appetite for more profound space experiences?
As of now, the company projects that those with a more ample income will get a chance to ride one of these balloons. It won’t be so high that people will be able to experience weightlessness, but it will be high enough that scientists can conduct some interesting research, the company argues.
Images courtesy of World View