BUSINESS

World View: Jane Poynter Wants To Take You To Space In A Balloon

03/13/2015 04:43 EDT | Updated 03/13/2015 04:59 EDT

It's not a spaceship or a rocket, but it'll still fly.

Yes, Jane Poynter and her company, World View, want to send the average person into space in a balloon by 2016.

Technically, if you ever went on the journey, you'd float to the edge of the atmosphere (to an altitude of about 100,000 feet), not into space, per se. Once you reach that altitude, you'll cruise the Earth's stratosphere for two hours, experiencing views of our planet that most people will never get to see. You'll slowly descend back to Earth and land on a gigantic puffy cushion called a parafoil. The entire flight lasts between five and six hours.

On March 8, World View and Poynter came close to achieving their ultimate goal: they successfully sent an unmanned balloon 100,000 feet into space and it landed on the parafoil without incident.

World View still has a lot of work to do before it can bring actual human beings into space. The test flight carried only research equipment, but the company seems to be closing in on making a balloon ride to space possible.

"This means it works, which is pretty crucial," Poynter said to Wired. "That was the big, risky part of the whole development. We still have some refinements to do on it, but we’ve at least proven that it’ll work, which is huge."

Elon Musk and his company SpaceX have conducted multiple space-travel trials, along with Richard Branson and Virgin, whose proposed space-travel ship (Virgin Galactic) is offering round trips for $250,000. The Virgin Galactic 2 famously crashed in the Mojave desert in late 2014.

World View will offer balloon travel for a far cheaper cost, at around $75,000 US a pop. And because the technology isn't very advanced -- the capsule, the parafoil and the helium balloon already exist -- it's likely Poynter can send people into space far sooner than SpaceX or Virgin.

Start saving up now, and you might be able to see Earth from space as early as 2016.

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