Visit the Edge of Space on the Cheap in a High-Altitude Balloon | Smart News | Smithsonian
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Visit the Edge of Space on the Cheap in a High-Altitude Balloon

Do your best Felix Baumgartner impersonation with this balloon trip to the stratosphere

smithsonian.com

Photo: World View

Despite how easy NASA makes it look, going to space is incredibly hard, and the dream of space tourism—Virgin Galactic or some other company blasting you off in their custom-made rocket ship—always seems to be just a year away. But by lowering the bar just a little bit, says Irene Klotz at Discovery, a new company wants to give would-be space travelers a much more realistic (and much more affordable) shot at seeing the top of the Earth.

For $75,000, a third of Virgin Galactic’s price, World View wants to send you to the upper atmosphere. A giant helium balloon would take you to 18.6 miles altitude. That’s four miles shy of the height Felix Baumgartner jumped from on his record-setting skydive last year. At that point, says Klotz, you wouldn’t get to feel weightless, but the view would be stunning.

That altitude is not technically space, but the region of the upper atmosphere called the stratosphere. Then again, the International Space Station, at a bit over 200 miles altitude, isn’t technically in space, either, and it cost $1.5 billion to go there. So really, World View’s dollar-per-mile rate is pretty good.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Celebrating Nearly a Decade of Richard Branson Almost Sending Us to Space
Three Views of Felix Baumgartner’s Record-Breaking Skydive From the Stratosphere

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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