On October 4, 2021, leading stratospheric ballooning company, World View, announced an expansion of services, one of them being an “edge-of-space experience.” It doesn’t sound believable. Well, nothing but truth has been reported regarding the company’s efforts in making space tourism for the general public a reality. In fact, it is viewed as the most affordable, most extended duration and most accessible space experience on Earth, writes Yahoo! Finance .
Since this piece broke loose, our editorial team has awaited more information before we set forth on this review. To our fascination, World View has recently announced that it will be accepting reservations for its 2024 space tour. Want to know more about this trip? Let’s cut right to the chase; here’s everything that our editorial team was able to muster on the journey to the edge of Earth!
What is the World View mission?
World View is on a mission to rediscover earth. As put by the team, they hope to elevate hopes and visions of a vibrant planet for generations to come. To achieve the latter, World View insists that nothing beats space tourism, and with time, they hope to make it more attainable for as many people as possible.
In discussing the endeavor at hand, World View CEO and President Ryan Hartman stressed the importance of shifting current perspectives of the Earth we live on. It’s not always the case that people can see things bigger than themselves or the “overview effect,” which astronauts have been fortunate to experience. Getting to the reason for existence, Ryan insists it revolves around:
“The idea to inspire, create and explore a new perspective, and four fundamental beliefs are what we define as space tourism […] Those four beliefs are that space tourism is about a place, it’s about time, it’s about affordability, and it’s about accessibility.”
Regarding the overview effect, Ryan and his team want to provide contrast. Taking the latter into account, the team designed their space tourism solution around the “Seven Wonders of the World Stratospheric Edition™.” For instance, standing at the peak of the Grand Canyon may seem significant, but when the same cliff is observed from the stratosphere, it takes up a small space in the big picture. The contrasts between small and big, detailed and general, are exactly what World View intends to provide.
On the topic of time, Ryan beautifully says, “It is important to have an opportunity to take in what you’re seeing truly. Not just the Earth, but the stars above and being able to truly see how our planet is a living organism and see beyond borders and see beyond rays […] it can’t be done in minutes, it has to be done in hours.”
Now that we have a feel for what World View aims to achieve through their space tourism program let’s take some time to reflect on the technology and other specifics.
What is the foundation of the World View Flight?
The foundation of World View Flight is balloon physics. Once the weight of the capsule World View intends to lift and the altitude to which it will be lifted is determined, the team will calculate how large the balloon should be, namely, how much lifting gas is required. To date, they successfully lifted five large-mass test payloads in flights that would be comparable to their Explorer capsules to the stratosphere before.
The team manufactured zero-pressure balloons to protect the balloon against getting popped or punctured. Based on the claims made, zero-pressure balloons are made using a thin plastic film called polyethylene (i.e., equivalent to the thickness of plastic sandwich wrap). This particular approach is desired because it includes escape ducts to normalize pressure.
Additionally, the balloons have a valve at the top, which can be opened and closed to allow helium to leave. Why is this important? Such openings are fundamental to prevent the pressure inside the balloon from accumulating. As the balloon rises above Earth’s surface, the gas expansion will incur, causing pressure to rise. So, upon ascending, pressure needs to be released a little at a time. To put things into context, the team presented the following analogy:
“As the balloon rises through Earth’s atmosphere, helium in the balloon expands and fills the balloon to a size that is big enough to fit an entire football stadium inside of it.”
What measures have been taken to ensure a successful World View Flight experience?
Since the goal is to provide contrasts between the small details and the overall picture of our Earth, the World View team ensured to focus on the following to deliver a breath-taking and life-rewarding experience:
Take Off from One of 7 Wonders of the World
To get started, individuals will have to choose from one of their spaceports at the seven most incredible destinations on Earth. These include Amazonia (Brazil), Aurora Borealis (Norway), Giza Pyramids (Egypt), Grand Canyon (US), Great Barrier Reef (Australia), Great Wall of China (Mongolia), and Serengeti (Kenya).
A 6 to 12 Hour Voyage
When the World View Flight reaches the edge of space, individuals will be spending several hours in the stratosphere. To ensure utmost comfort, the capsule has been equipped with ergonomic seating, large viewing windows, and a spacious cabin to move around during the journey. The team strongly believes that their capsule is synonymous with experiencing the beauty of Earth from the comfort of one’s home.
Various Jaw-Dropping Views
Fifteen minutes after takeoff, individuals will begin to see the curvature of Earth. This will be more pronounced as the balloon takes everyone higher. At the 2-hour mark into the journey, the capsule will have reached apogee at around 100,000 feet. Up to 5 hours will be spent here before descending back to Earth, which takes another hour.
The World View Flight will take off before sunrise for a more jaw-dropping viewing. Stargazers might find the onboard telescope exciting, as they can be used to spot distant galaxies, star clusters, and constellations. Before the trip, individuals will also be provided with a sky map for each window so that everyone is aware of celestial bodies to be watchful of during flight.
On-Flight Services & Activities
During the World View Flight, attendees will enjoy a meal, as well as access to a complete selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. An onboard lavatory is also available to those concerned about the bathroom. As for activities, individuals can bring anything typically accepted on a standard airplane.
Whether individuals like to read, listen to music, meditate, reflect, write, draw, paint, knit, or even communicate with friends and loved ones on Earth, anything and everything is possible. Like astronauts who bring little mementos to space, individuals are also encouraged to bring something to help recall their time in the stratosphere (i.e., a stuffed animal, a unique coin, a keepsake photo, etc.).
Privacy and Comfort
Each capsule has seating for 8 participants and two crew members (a pilot and a concierge). Minimal spacing has been arranged to promote utmost privacy and comfort with reclining seats and elbow room between seats. The only way to truly appreciate our Earth is to see things from different vantage points, so why should everyone remain seated, right? With an 8-person seating arrangement, everyone will have ample room to stand and walk around.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
Q. Is the World View Flight safe?
A. The entire system has been designed, tested, and verified as safe. The team included redundant safety measures if any primary ones malfunction during flight. In other words, every conceivable issue has been well-thought-out, like in the case of flying on a plane.
Q. Is the World View Flight a space tour?
A. No, the World View Flight is not intended to take people to space or to help individuals become astronauts. Anything that exceeds 60,000 feet in altitude is considered suborbital space, therefore, any flight carrying humans above this threshold for recreational purposes is classified as space tourism.
Q. What is the benefit of the overview effect?
A. Ryan insists that the benefit of the overview effect is the ability to ensure access to more people. In doing so, the Earth is likely to earn more respect and appreciation.
Q. How high will most of the World View Flights go?
A. Most World View flights will hover between 100,000 and 105,000 feet above Earth’s surface.
Q. What does “apogee” mean?
A. Apogee is the farthest point from a planet or satellite reached by an object orbiting it.
Q. How large are World View’s balloons on tourist flights?
A. At launch, the balloon will stand 550 feet tall, with all the helium molecules condensed at the top of the balloon in an 80-feet-diameter bubble.
Why is the World View Flight considered a space flight by the FAA if it isn’t going to space?
The World View Flight is considered a “space flight” because of the altitudes it will be reaching during flight. As mentioned earlier, the capsule will be hovering anywhere between 100,000 and 105,000 feet above Earth’s surface, which forces the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to classify World View’s capsule as a spacecraft.
Q. Are the World View Flights only intended for tourism purposes?
A. No, according to the team, they’ve since received applications for research, and educational purposes and to host political summits. With time, Ryan and his team foresee a future where several other non-tourism applications may be possible.
Q. Will I experience weightlessness?
A. No, individuals will not experience weightlessness (or microgravity) on this trip. The reason for this has to do with the nature of the flight, which entails smooth ascent and descent. If there was a free-fall involved, then weightlessness will be experienced. For those seeking the latter, the option is possible but via World View’s partnership with Zero-G, offered at VIP discounts.
Q. Do I need to wear a spacesuit on the World View Flight?
A. No spacesuit is necessary because the capsule has been pressurized just like a commercial airplane cabin.
Q. Will attendees need to partake in training before the World View Flight?
A. No, due to the gentle nature of the ascent and descent at normal gravity, special training is not required. Just like taking a plane, a crew member will provide familiarization briefings in advance to better understand the capsule and how to maximize one’s journey.
Q. Is there an age and health requirement for the World View Flight?
A. The minimum age is 18 years old. If individuals are generally healthy and able to fly on an airplane, then physiological and medical requirements are definitely met. While no examination is required, it might be a good idea to consult a physician for safety purposes.
Q. Is the location of take-off the same as landing?
A. The takeoff and landing locations will be near one another.
Q. Are excursions included in the ticket price?
A. External excursions are not included in the ticket price, however, the team is assessing the possibility of offering a list of a la carte excursions that can be added to the trip.
Q. Are there financing options for the World View Flight?
A. Yes, either a lump-sum cheque or flexible financing options can be selected. The team is willing to set up manageable monthly payments for those who require such flexibility. This is a discussion that will be held after a deposit has been made.
Q. Is the reservation deposit refundable?
A. No, the reservation deposit is non-refundable.
How does the reservation process for the World View Flight work?
Currently, the pre-sales window is open, which permits individuals to secure a spot in line. The first deposit is $500. This deposit will be credited towards the ticket purchase once the booking windows are released. When both the deposit and seat have been deposited and secured respectively, the team at World View will provide updates on test flights and manufacturing, while also inviting interested parties to special VIP events. The latter is a great way to learn more about the preparations for commercial flights.
How should individuals prepare for the World View Flight?
When deciding to partake in the World View Flight experience, individuals are agreeing to their flight window. This flight window is 5 days long and provides everyone with an opportunity to learn about the area while taking tours and excursions. As with any space flight, launches have a fluid launch window to account for any inclement weather. In stratospheric ballooning, the team must monitor weather conditions very closely. Ultimately, individuals are asked to spend 5 days at and around the spaceport of their choice to be ready when a launch window opens.
This doesn’t mean sitting around and waiting, instead, different excursions can be taken advantage of to pass time. For instance, if one plans to fly out of Spaceport Grand Canyon, it might be beneficial to hike to the rim, or even to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, absorb its history and local indigenous culture, and discover the local flora and fauna. Then, when the launch window opens, individuals will have attained a richer and more meaningful trip to appreciate the overview effect.
How much does the World View Flight cost?
The Explorer-class flights are priced at $50,000 per seat. This includes the flight to the stratosphere and VIP access to the entire spaceport experience. The spaceport will be the central hub for the trip and will include a variety of educational content about the surrounding area, access to its lounges, bars, and restaurants, and onsite activities.
The idea of understanding the world we live in from different angles ensures a complete picture of how things fit together. The World View Flight takes this meaning to a whole new level, where individuals are guaranteed not only a broad standpoint but also a detailed one. Viewing any one of the seven wonders of the world physically and from the stratosphere are two distinct experiences. Seeing opportunities that promote both become reality is fascinating and is proof that we’ve come a long way as a society.
While the trip is likely expensive for most people, not only are flexible financing options available but individuals who onboard this journey will be the first ones to ever experience it before it becomes mainstream.
Most importantly, getting that high up in altitude will provide reassurance to all that our Earth is a beauty and force to be reckoned with. To learn more about the World View Flight, visit here>>>.
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