A Japanese startup on Tuesday 02/20/2023 revealed its plan to offer balloon flights for commercial space viewing. The company aims to provide an affordable experience to people who can’t be billionaires or train to fly rockets.
Sapporo-based company Iwaya Giken has developed a two-seater opaque cabin and balloon that can hover up to 25 kilometers high, providing an unobstructed view of outer space.
Although it doesn’t reach outer space, it goes higher than a commercial jet. JTB Corp., a Japanese travel agency, has agreed to cooperate with the company and offer commercial tours once the project is ready. A ticket for the first trip is expected to cost around 24 million yen ($180,000), but Iwaya hopes to eventually lower the price to several million yen.
The US company SpaceX recently launched a private charter flight carrying three wealthy individuals and an astronaut companion to the International Space Station at a cost of $55 million per passenger. However, Iwaya’s goal is to make space travel more affordable.
Ivaya informed the journalists that the offer is safe, cheap and safe for everyone. He expressed his intention to democratize space by making space tourism accessible to everyone. According to company officials, the Iwaya Giken balloon will be inflated with helium, which can be largely reused, and will be flown within Japanese territory or airspace to ensure safety. The first trip is planned to be carried out at the end of this year.
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Iwaya Giken, headquartered in Sapporo, northern Japan, has been developing this idea since 2012.
The spherical balloon, which can accommodate one pilot and one passenger, is planned to be launched from a Hokkaido-based hot air balloon. The balloon would rise for two hours to an altitude of 25 kilometers (15 miles), where it would stay for an hour before descending for an hour. The drum-shaped chamber, which is made of plastic and has a diameter of 1.5 meters, has many large windows that offer a view of outer space or the Earth below.
Applications for Space View are now being accepted and applications will continue until the end of August. It is expected that the company will announce the names of the first five selected passengers in October. The company plans to operate flights approximately one week apart, although weather conditions may alter the schedule.
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