World View, an offshoot of privately owned Paragon Space Development Corp., has announced that it is developing a balloon-launched, near-space ride for $75,000. The helium balloon will carry its pressurized gondola, with six fee-paying tourists on board, to around 30 kilometers in altitude. The environment will be so space-like (though well short of the 110 kilometer height where space 'officially' begins) that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) considers the vehicle a spacecraft.
The huge World View helium balloon will expand as it increases in altitude, traveling through the stratosphere.
The World View gondola will need to be pressurized, just as a spacecraft needs to be pressurized, to protect the passengers from the freezing, near-zero air pressure environment.
'Near-space tourists' look out of the pressurized capsule, looking down on Earth from 30 kilometers high. The ride is expected to cost $75,000 per ticket.
Opposed to Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, the World View gondola will hang above earth for extended periods of time, possibly for hours. However, tourists will not experience microgravity.
The World View gondola shortly after its epic journey into the stratosphere and landing safely in the desert. All images featured in this gallery are screenshots from a World View animation of what 'near-space tourists' may see during their journey into the stratosphere.