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Space Entertainment

Company To Balloon Tourists To the Edge of Space For $75,000 104

Posted by timothy
from the why-can't-they-balloon-them-all? dept.
astroengine writes "If the thought of a rocket ride to space — or the $250,000 price tag to get there — leaves you feeling queasy, an Arizona firm thinks it has a gentler, less expensive alternative. World View, an offshoot of privately owned Paragon Space Development Corp., is developing a balloon-launched, near-space (30 kilometers) ride for $75,000 — less than one-third the current cost to fly on Virgin Galactic's suborbital SpaceShipTwo. "It really is very gentle. You can be up at altitude for hours, for days for research if you need to be... I think we have the opportunity to give a really, really incredible experience to people — and for a lot less than most of what's out on the market right now," project co-founder and Paragon president Jane Poynter told Discovery News."
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Company To Balloon Tourists To the Edge of Space For $75,000

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  • Re:30Km isn't space (Score:5, Informative)

    by camperdave (969942) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @10:50AM (#45200665) Journal
    100km isn't exactly arbitrary [wikipedia.org]. It is the altitude where, in order for an aircraft to generate sufficient lift, it would have to be moving at orbital velocity.
  • by camperdave (969942) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @11:52AM (#45201533) Journal

    I've always wondered why, if we can send balloons to the upper reaches of our atmosphere why we don't use ballooning as a 1st stage launch platform for reaching space?

    This balloon [redbullstratos.com] lifted a 3000 pound capsule. To do that required the balloon to be 55 storeys tall and have a surface area of 40 acres. A loaded SpaceX Dragon capsule weighs over eight tons, so you're going to need a balloon at least five times as large.

    For practical purposes, however, reaching space means getting into orbit. Getting into orbit isn't about the altitude. It is about the velocity. The ISS orbits at approximately Mach 17. Earth's escape velocity (to reach the Moon, and other planets) is about Mach 37. Top speed for a balloon is Mach 0.4 on a generous day. In other words, not much help.

    For sounding rockets, and small suborbital payloads, balloons might work. However, beyond that, balloons are quite impractical.

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