A Japanese company has put out the call for passengers who’d be willing to pay more than $175,000 for an hours-long ride in a balloon-borne capsule that will rise as high as 15 miles (25 kilometers).
Technically, that’s nowhere near the boundary of outer space, but it’s high enough to get an astronaut’s-eye view of the curving Earth beneath a black sky.
“It’s safe, economical and gentle for people,” the CEO of a startup called Iwaya Giken, Keisuke Iwaya, told reporters in Tokyo. “The idea is to make space tourism for everyone.”
Other companies are planning similar stratospheric tourist ventures. But if Iwaya’s venture sticks to its announced timeline and begins flying customers around the end of this year, it would be the first to get to market.
The space entrepreneurs who planned to send passengers ballooning into the stratosphere for astronaut’s-eye views of the Earth below, way back in 2013, have revived the idea for a new venture called Space Perspective.
Co-CEOs Taber MacCallum and Jane Poynter unveiled their concept for a balloon-borne capsule called Spaceship Neptune today, and said that uncrewed test flights are due to begin early next year.
“Good things take time,” MacCallum joked during an interview with GeekWire in advance of the big reveal.
What’s the best way to show off your mobile networking technology? How about demonstrating that the technology can seamlessly switch between WiFi, cellular and satellite data connectivity while it’s flying on a balloon up to a height of 85,000 feet?
That’s the answer that Seattle-based NetMotion Software came up with when it sought to showcase its mobile video conferencing capabilities.
For three and a half years, Ryan Hartman served as president and CEO of Insitu — the Boeing subsidiary headquartered in Bingen, Wash., that pioneered the creation of unmanned aircraft systems for military and commercial applications.
Now Hartman will raise his sights as the new CEO of Tucson, Ariz.-based World View, which is developing stratospheric balloon-borne platforms known as Stratollites to perform satellite-style tasks in remote sensing and communications.
Canada’s biggest satellite operator, Telesat, has signed agreements with Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture and Alphabet’s Loon aerial telecommunications venture to support its future global broadband satellite constellation.
Blue Origin has agreed to provide multiple launches on its yet-to-be-built New Glenn rocket to get Telesat’s spacecraft into low Earth orbit, or LEO. Loon, meanwhile, will furnish a cloud-based data delivery platform that’s based on the system it currently uses to deliver mobile services via a fleet of high-altitude balloons.
Today’s announcements raise Telesat’s profile in a market battle that also involves California-based SpaceX and the international OneWeb consortium.
Two of Google’s best-known flights of fancy, Project Loon and Project Wing, are being hatched from their X incubator to become independent businesses under the wing of Alphabet, Google’s holding company.
Loon will work with mobile network operators globally to bring internet access to a market of billions of people currently without high-speed connections.
A high-altitude balloon reportedly exploded at Spaceport Tucson in Arizona today after a test that was being conducted by World View Enterprises. No injuries were reported, but the loud boom shook up residents in the surrounding area.
Tucson-based World View is working on what it calls its Stratollite system, which puts scientific instruments on a platform that’s lofted into the stratosphere on the end of a helium-filled balloon. Images and other types of data can be downlinked from on high in real time, or stored for recovery when the platform descends.
“Coupled with Stratollite’s game-changing ability to persist over areas of interest for days, weeks, and months on end, the ability to capture real-time images like these will unlock unprecedented applications and markets for the Stratollite,” Jane Poynter, World View’s co-founder and CEO, said in a news release about the newly released images.