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IPFS News Link • Transportation: Air Travel

Japanese Startup to Launch Public Space-Viewing Balloon Flights to Rival SpaceX

• by Andy Corbley

With an unobstructed view of space above, and the curvature of the Earth clearly visible below, the capsule is designed to rival existing space tourism flights that cost millions per ticket by reducing the complexity of the flight, and removing the need for special astronaut training.

Developed by the Sapporo-based Iwaya Giken, the helium-powered balloon is slated for an October launch this year, with tickets available in August at around $175,000. Iawya's CEO Keisuke Iwaya hopes to bring that cost down to a five-figure, and eventually a four-figure sum as quickly as next year.

Last June, the company successfully launched their balloon up to about 90% total altitude with a hamster on board.

During a two-hour ascent, the capsule, which looks an awful lot like the cockpit of the Millenium Falcon, rises 14 miles above Earth to the stratosphere, higher than jet planes fly, and above the point where space goes from a blue curtain to a twinkling black abyss. After it reaches its target altitude, it remains for 1 hour, before descending over the course of another hour.