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For $75,000, a balloon ride to the mid-stratosphere

World View, a new commercial space outlet, has announced plans to ferry paying customers to some 19 miles above the Earth for views similar to those seen from space.

World View says that it will be lofting paying customers into the mid-stratosphere as early as 2015.

World View

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At last: a way to reach mid-stratospheric heights without the rumbling, jarring aid of a rocket.

A new commercial space outlet, called World View Enterprises, has announced plans to sell trips to the middle of the stratosphere aboard a capsule tethered to a giant balloon, a venture geared at customers who are both deep-pocketed and rocket-averse.

Like most budding commercial space, or near-space, ventures, World View is not selling seats in its proposed eight-person capsule for cheap: not cheap, as in $75,000 a seat. That's a price dip, if not a helpful one, from World View's nearest competitor, Virgin Galactic, whose planned joy rides into space run at $250,000 a ticket.

The new venture also appears to hope to distinguish itself from its competitor as a less stomach-reeling option: Virgin Galactic plans to send customers booming into space at supersonic speeds; World View sells less an adrenaline boost, more, well, a worldview.

World View’s ticket holders will be lofted to the stratosphere in a capsule cabled to an enormous helium balloon, like a spider gliding though the skies under a silk parachute. The serene ascent will take about two hours and the capsule will then spend between two and six hours at peak height, 19 miles above Earth. To come down, the capsule will detach from the balloon and cruise for some 40 minutes under a glider, coming to a neat stop on landing skids.


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