World View Prototype Balloon Reaches for Edge of Space

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Nine months after unveiling plans for high-altitude balloon rides – high enough for passengers to see the curvature of Earth against the blackness of space – World View has successfully tested a one-tenth size mockup, the company announced on Tuesday.

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The prototype capsule, lofted by a helium balloon, reached an altitude of 120,000 feet over Roswell, N.M. It then descended to 50,000 feet, deployed an aerodynamic parafoil and safely landed.

“The flight tested several essential components for consumer flights,” the company said in a press release.

It also provided a stunning preview of what passengers might expect to see when commercial services begin in 2016.

“We couldn’t be any more excited about the results from this test flight,” World View co-founder and chief executive Jane Poynter, said in a statement.

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Engineers will review data collected during June 18 test flight, make any necessary changes and fly again, co-founder and chief technology officer Taber MacCallum wrote in an email to Discovery News.

“We anticipate flying both sub-scale unmanned systems and full-mass simulator test articles,” he added.

World View is selling rides for $75,000 per person. The balloon flight service is similar to a system being developed by Barcelona-based zero2infinity, which made a test flight last September.