Have you checked off everything on your bucket list yet still feel that there is more to see and do? How about a trip to the edge of space? Talk about the trip of a lifetime. Imagine doing something that only a handful of other people have ever experienced. Imagine being part of a small community of explorers including the likes of Neil Armstrong.
If you’re not inclined to zip to the edge of space in Galactic Virgin’s SS2, perhaps you would prefer a more refined ride to space in World View Enterprises balloon. These are two of the major players in the race to space game that offers a short jaunt to the edge of space for those willing to divvy out the money. If you’ve ever dreamed of being a space tourist, read on to determine which trip will better suit you.
Even if you have no interest in aviation, you probably have heard of Richard Branson’s efforts to take passengers to the edge of space. His Space Ship 2 (SS2) is on track to shuttle passengers to an altitude where they will experience weightlessness for approximately six minutes. After you train with your crew for about three days you’ll be ready to earn your wings.
The SS2 is launched from a mother ship at 50,000 feet where its engines engage and take six passengers and two crew to an altitude where you can leave your seat and float around in the cabin. After six minutes you return to your seat and experience some g forces as you drop back into the atmosphere and glide back to terra firma.
If this sounds like the sort of luxury adventure you’d enjoy you’ll be in good company. Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, Ashton Kutcher, and Katy Perry are just a few of the celebrities that have paid up the $250,000 for a flight. At present, Virgin Galactic has over 600 people signed up for a flight.
World View Enterprises
If rocketing into space is not what you had in mind, maybe a more laid back trip to the edge, or near space, is for you. You may not get as high as the astronauts on the SS2, but 19 miles up is still going to give you quite a view of the earth, including its curvature. What World View lacks in altitude it makes up for in several other ways. First, it’s a comfortable balloon ride up and a gentle descent back to earth. Second, it will only cost $75,000, a real bargain when you consider the third perk, an onboard bar.
You won’t experience weightlessness on your four hour trip but you will be able to stay at an altitude of about 100,000 feet for several hours, see the black sky, and the curvature of the earth. The only scary part of the ride will be when the capsule your riding in is released from the balloon. You’ll experience a few seconds of weightlessness until the parafoil wing captures enough air to begin the glide back to earth.
Alan Carr is an aviation buff that writes on a variety of topics for globalair.com. In his down time he enjoys traveling and photography.