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Tucson company selling space tourism by balloon

Floating over wonders of the world
Posted at 5:23 AM, Oct 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-07 19:43:21-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A Tucson company is joining the space race---the race to put tourists in space. But the company is not offering a ride on a rocket.

This summer we were treated to millionaires rocketing into space. Now a Tucson company is moving ahead with a space tourism concept that is gentler on the body and on the wallet.

You’d better be in shape to enjoy space tourism by rocket. The launch could hit you with maybe six times the force of gravity. The rocket ride may get you a few minutes of celestial sight seeing. The space tourism companies are not quoting firm ticket prices but estimates run three to five hundred thousand dollars.

World View, based in Tucson, is offering gentle balloon rides to the edge of space with up to 12 hours up there to enjoy the view. CEO Ryan Hartman plans to charge fifty thousand dollars a seat.

“Listen, I know $50,000 is a lot of money, but it's a starting point, and it's far more affordable than anything else. And then accessibility is the other component. So many people are locked out of space tourism, specifically because of the physical requirements to strap yourself to a rocket, and to come to the 6 Gs to go to space.”

World View is selling more than the balloon ride. The flight is part of a five day package touring wonders of the world like the Grand Canyon or the Pyramids of Egypt, then seeing the same sites from space. The company hopes that will build a better appreciation for the Earth and its fragile environment.

Though flights will be all over the world, they’ll use equipment designed and built in Tucson. The company makes the huge balloons on tables almost six hundred feet long. World View is already using different equipment to fly scientific and military payloads.

That translates to Tucson jobs, and expanding into tourism floats the potential for more jobs.

Hartman says, “For us it's going to mean getting to 100 employees by the end of the year, 200 employees by the end of next year by the time we start commercial operations and 2024 will be 500 employees. But the exciting thing is we're starting here in Arizona with Spaceport Grand Canyon and Page, Arizona, which means even more jobs in Arizona.”

World View still has design and testing ahead but expects to fly its first tourists in about three years.