Tucson Space-Flight Company Makes Test Flight to Near Space
The view from 120,000 feet.
A Tucson-based company that plans to offer trips to near space announced that it successfully completed a test flight.
World View, which plans to launch in 2016, says its balloon system went up 120,000 feet, or nearly 23 miles.
At that level, the machine is still in Earth's atmosphere, but it's about three or four times higher than the cruising altitude of a commercial airplane.
As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, it goes high enough to capture the curvature of Earth.
This test flight included a load one-tenth the size of its planned commercial system, which is a capsule with windows that would give humans a 360-degree view from up there on a two-hour trip.
What the company hopes its flights will look like:
According to a statement from the company, the flight was designed to test the ground operations and launch, the backup landing system, the parafoil (which deploys at about 50,000 feet on the descent), and the guided landing system.
World View CEO Jane Poynter said in a statement, "We couldn't be any more excited about the results from this test flight."
A rendering of what the completed system will look like.
Poynter and the company's chief technology officer were both on the design team of the Biosphere 2 in southern Arizona, and both lived there for some time. A former NASA scientist, a private engineer, and former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' husband Mark Kelly -- a former NASA astronaut -- are also listed as World View employees.
The company still plans to have private tours up and running by 2016. The planned price-tag is $75,000 per person.
The company also got a pretty big victory at the state Legislature this year, as Governor Jan Brewer signed a law that establishes a way for space-flight companies to get waivers of liability from passengers.
A photo of the test flight system.
Below, you can see a video from World View explaining the test flight:
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