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With $75,000, You Will Have The Chance To View The Earth From Space

No special training, no special health requirements! All you need is $75,000 in your bank account. A Tuscon, Arizona-based company named World View Experience has plans to fly you 25 miles above the Earth’s surface using a polyethylene balloon as thin as a dry-cleaning bag. Don’t worry, they already flew this balloon before!

This past October, Alan Eustace, a 57-year-old computer scientist of Google, lifted off into space from the New Mexico desert using the aforementioned balloon. As the balloon rose steadily into the air, the small bubble of helium inside began to expand, and with each mile the balloon changed shape. At first it undulated skyward, limp and oblong, like a jellyfish. Then it grew into a soft, bulbous teardrop. Finally, as Eustace neared his destination, 25 miles above the planet’s surface, it became perfectly firm and rounded, a shimmering object the size of a football stadium. Above him spanned the blackness of space. Beneath him lay what has long drawn humans to these heights: the soul-altering view of the curvature of the Earth.

“Balloons are a beautiful mechanism for taking off,” Eustace says. “You’re perfectly balanced; it’s perfectly quiet; there’s no vibration as you’re going up.” Let’s watch this video to get the idea of what Eustace said:

The ride of your life

Here’s a peek at what it’ll be like to float at an altitude of 100,000 feet, above 99% of Earth’s atmosphere.

After arriving at the launch site, six passengers and two crew members would climb aboard the fully-pressurized Winnebago-sized capsule, which contains a bathroom and a refreshment bar.

3591341_World-View-_du-hanh-khong-gian_tinhte_01The capsule offers 360-degree views and internet access, so you can share photos in real-time.

3591342_World-View-_du-hanh-khong-gian_tinhte_02A giant helium-filled polyethylene balloon will keep the cabin afloat. As the gas expands and decreases in density, the capsule will float into the air until it is fully inflated.

3591343_World-View-_du-hanh-khong-gian_tinhte_03Once the helium completely fills the balloon, the package stops ascending as it reaches its target altitude at about 100,000 feet. To put this into perspective, commercial jets fly between 30,000 and 40,000 feet, and U2 spy planes zoom through the skies at around 75,000 feet.

3591344_World-View-_du-hanh-khong-gian_tinhte_04This ascent will take about 90 minutes.

3591345_World-View-_du-hanh-khong-gian_tinhte_05Once at 100,000 feet, passengers will be able to enjoy stunning views of the stars.

3591346_World-View-_du-hanh-khong-gian_tinhte_06And the black vastness of space.

3591347_World-View-_du-hanh-khong-gian_tinhte_07They will also be able to see the curvature of the Earth, which sometimes elicits a cognitive shift in awareness called the “overview effect.”

3591348_World-View-_du-hanh-khong-gian_tinhte_08Many astronauts report that seeing our planet from such a high perch makes everything happening on Earth seem tiny and insignificant. Passengers will get to enjoy this view for about 2 hours.

3591349_World-View-_du-hanh-khong-gian_tinhte_09As the capsule starts to descend, the balloon will separate at about 50,000 feet and a ParaWing will glide the capsule down to the landing site.

3591350_World-View-_du-hanh-khong-gian_tinhte_10The balloon will float to the ground, where World View employees will collect and recycle it.

3591351_World-View-_du-hanh-khong-gian_tinhte_11Once the capsule lands, about 4 to 5 hours later, a private jet will return the passengers to the initial launch site. Depending on the time of year, the distance between the launch and landing site could be anywhere from 0 to 300 miles.

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 9.15.41 AMAccording to World View, the aerospace community considers high-altitude ballooning to be dependable and safe.

3591353_World-View-_du-hanh-khong-gian_tinhte_13And if that’s not enough, the team also includes NASA scientists, including astronaut Mark Kelly, serving as director of flight crew operations, and former head of science at NASA and principal investigator of the New Horizons mission to Pluto, Alan Stern.

3591354_World-View-_du-hanh-khong-gian_tinhte_14The major challenge for the company will be to pass rigorous feasibility and safety testing.

3591355_World-View-_du-hanh-khong-gian_tinhte_15They performed a successful test launch in the summer of 2014, lifting a much smaller, passenger-less version of the prototype to 120,000 feet and back down to 50,000 feet.

3591356_World-View-_du-hanh-khong-gian_tinhte_16And they even broke a world record as the highest parafoil flight ever performed.

3591357_World-View-_du-hanh-khong-gian_tinhte_17World View aims to finish full-scale testing by the end of 2016, at which point they expect to start flying passengers.

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