The American near-space company World View Enterprises has managed to successfully test fly a one-tenth scale model of its giant balloon-carried passenger pod. The company believes that it will have a full version ready to take customers to near-space by 2017.
The recent test managed to achieve a height of more than 100,000 feet in the sky before it detached from the balloon. At that point, it descended back to Earth using a parafoil.
According to World View Enterprises, the mission was conducted for the purpose of demonstrating a liftoff, a transition between the phases of ascent and descent and a safe return to the ground.
Co-founder and chief technology officer of World View Enterprises Taber MacCallum said, “While each individual system has been analyzed and extensively tested in previous test flights, this significant milestone allowed us to test and prove all critical flight systems at once. Now we’re ready for the next major phase of development, full scale system testing.”
When the full scale pod is ready, it will carry a pilot and up to eight passengers. The passengers will enjoy built-in Wi-FI, a bar and a fully functioning lavatory. The balloon that will carry them will be about the size of a football stadium.
In 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration determined that the pod is considered to be a “space launch vehicle”, even though it never crosses the 100km line that is typically considered the threshold for a space launch.
As a result of this ruling, the pod will feature the same specifications in terms of pressurization, radiation shielding and micrometeorite protection as a manned rocket. Passengers will certainly appreciate these safety features.
The pod is designed to land completely intact. It features a skid system that representatives of World View Enterprises are promising to be an entertaining experience.
World View Enterprises will offer customers trips to the edge of space in their balloon-carried capsule for just $75,000.