Company to Balloon Tourists to the Edge of Space

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For added safety and for landing, a steerable parafoil will be deployed during ascent and throughout the ride. “You can effectively glide the vehicle back down to the ground from just about any altitude. So it’s a really great safety feature,” Poynter said.

The capsule descends in 20- to 40 minutes and lands on skids.

“Virgin Galactic and other others have really demonstrated that there is a market for experience,” said MacCallum, Paragon’s chief executive and chief technical officer.

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Virgin Galactic, owned by Richard Branson’s London-based Virgin Group, so far has sold about 650 rides on SpaceShipTwo, which currently is undergoing testing in Mojave, Calif. Commercial flights are expected to begin next year.

“One of the things we’re looking at is launching at night so that you get up to altitude and then see dawn from the edge of space and really see that whole transformation of the ground below you and see the terminator -- the edge of sunlight -- move along the Earth below you,” MacCallum said.

Poynter declined to discuss World View’s development costs except to say that funding is in place for a sub-scale demonstration project expected to begin later this year.

Commercial passenger service could begin in about three years, Poynter added.

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