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Judge deflates deal for Arizona balloon base

Image: Balloon launch
World View’s team prepares a high-altitude balloon to carry a solar observatory payload into the stratosphere. (Credit: Carmen Noriega / World View)

A judge in Arizona has struck down Pima County’s $15 million development deal with World View Enterprises for a stratospheric balloon launch facility near Tucson.

The Feb. 2 ruling by Pima County Superior Court Judge Catherine Woods dealt a setback to World View’s plans to send tourists and payloads to heights above 100,000 feet.

The deal was forged more than a year ago, and led to the construction of a 700-foot-wide launch pad and headquarters facility for World View at Spaceport Tucson. The plan called for World View to lease the facility for 20 years, making annual payments ranging from $675,000 to $1.62 million.

World View’s employees began moving into the facility at the end of last year.

Months before the move-in, the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute filed suit against Pima County, claiming that the lease arrangement violated state laws. This week, Woods agreed.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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