Meet The Companies Taking Tourists 100,000 Feet Above The Earth In A Balloon

Commercial space flight is becoming more and more common with companies including SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic all having flown paying customers into space over the last several years. But soon, those interested in seeing the earth from an unusual vantage point may have another option. A number of startups are hoping to hoist tourists to the stratosphere using pressurized capsules and massive gas-filled balloons. CNBC spoke to three of them, France-based Zephalto, Florida-based Space Perspective and Arizona-based World View. The experiences would not take passengers all the way into space, the start of which is generally accepted by the U.S. government to be around 80 km or around 50 miles above the earth’s surface. Still, the companies we spoke to said passengers would be able to experience the “overview effect,” a common, highly emotional phenomenon felt by astronauts when they see the earth against the blackness of space. The rides would also be much smoother, avoiding the bone rattling experiences of rocket-powered space tourism. A single trip would last about 6 hours and ticket prices range from $50,000/seat with World View to around $184,000/seat with Zephalto. All the stratospheric balloon companies we spoke to are still developing and testing their systems. Space Perspective and World View would not give CNBC an exact date for when they plan to begin commercial flights, but Zephalto said the company is aiming for 2025. Chapters: 00:00 Introduction 02:27 The stratospheric experience 07:00 Stratospheric balloons 10:58 Regulation and safety 13:52 Road to commercial flights Produced, Shot and Edited by: Magdalena Petrova Additional Camera: Lisa Setyon Animation: Jason Reginato, Emily Rabbideau Supervising Producer: Jeniece Pettitt Additional Footage: NASA, Getty Images Additional Sources:National Air and Space Museum, Federal Aviation Administration,
Wed, 10 Jul 2024 16:00:52 GMT

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