One Step Closer To The 20-Mile-High Club

Semi-affordable space tourism is well on its way. 

In January, we profiled World View, a company that’s going to send tourists right to the edge of space strapped to a balloon. The thing is, once you get to space, you have to figure out how to get down. Last Friday, the company tested its parafoil glider, which will take tourists back down to earth after their balloon ride to space. A parafoil glider is like a huge parachute, but one that can be controlled with precision by its pilot. During the test flight on Friday, World View set a world record by flying their version of the parafoil at a height of 102,200 feet. 

Taber MacCallum, World View’s chief technology officer, explained in the statement that the flight not only furthered its goal as a tourism company, but also one that looks to advance research about space flight. The company believes it will be able to send tourists to space by 2017, but has yet to test the capsule that will take tourists to the edge of space in style. As CEO Jane Poynter told Maxim last month, “It’s all about making it as comfortable as possible.”  Basically, whatever the opposite feeling is of strapping a rocket to your back and aiming for the stars.

The cost of a ticket to space on a balloon is $75,000, which is a lot less that World View’s competitors, but not quite pocket change. Or, if you consider $75,000 pocket change, then you should seriously consider hitching the next available balloon to the heavens. As Poynter reminded us, “There is such a thing as the 20-mile high club.”