You can strike flying to space and back from your bucket list if Japanese startup Iwaya Giken stays true to its word. Taking the exclusivity out of space trips, the firm unveiled commercial space viewing balloon flights accessible to everyone, even if youre, not a billionaire. Company CEO Keisuke Iwaya assured a crowd during a news conference in Tokyo that the space balloon was a safe and affordable space travel option. The vessel is a circular glass balloon with two pilot and passenger seats.
He said: “It’s safe, economical, and gentle for people. “The idea is to make space tourism for everyone.” Iwaya Giken has been working on the project for a decade to develop an airtight two-seat glass balloon capable of rising to an altitude of 25 kilometers (15 miles). From this vantage point, travelers can enjoy the stunning curve of the Earth.
Technically speaking, passengers won’t be in outer space but in the middle of the stratosphere. This is where they should remember it’s economical, therefore a tad less magical. Still, they’ll be higher than a jet plane flies and have an unobstructed view of outer space. Unlike its counterparts, the Iwaya Giken vessel will be lifted by helium that can be largely reused.
The flight would set one back by nearly $180,000 (Jeff Bezos spent $5.5 billion to be in space for four minutes). The Amazon co-founder will be exasperated to learn that Iwaya aims to eventually bring it down to mere tens of thousands of dollars. Perhaps he can recommend this to his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, who was planning an all-girls space trip in 2023.
Iwaya Giken has joined hands with major Japanese travel agency JTB Corp. on the project when the company is ready for a commercial trip. The first trip is planned as early as later this year and will safely stay above Japanese territory or airspace. Applications for a space viewing ride are now open and will remain so till the end of August 2023. The lucky first five passengers would be announced in October and will find themselves on the first fight only a week later.
WorldView balloon spacecraft will do the same for $50,000-
Not only will the stratospheric exploration company take passengers on a 12-hour journey to space, but they will also do so with champagne and company. The innovative spacecraft will seat eight passengers and two crew members in hexagon-shaped pods equipped with a climate-controlled, pressurized environment. The comfortable seats will be surrounded by large elliptical windows, a central console, personal storage, and a beverage holder with breathtaking views of the Earth’s curvature. WorldView’s space tourism program begins launching commercial flights in 2024 for $50,000 per seat.