Space Tourism: Successful test flight of 1/10 scale helium ballon to 100,000ft

Posted: June 28, 2014 by tallbloke in atmosphere, Gravity, innovation, Photography, Travel

Gizmag has a report on a successful test flight by World View Enterprises of their 1/10 scale model of the real thing. Can I have a go please:

Arizona-based World View Enterprises has successfully completed its first test flight of a space tourism balloon that, for the price of US$75,000 per person, will lift six passengers into the stratosphere to an altitude of 20 miles (32 km). From there, they will be able to see the curvature of the Earth. The company says it is on track to fly its first passenger in just two years time.

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Comments
  1. NikFromNYC says:

    I’d much rather do this than be stuck in a loud little rocket for only a few minutes, and the price of this could plunge far below that. Hydrogen is just as good for lift as helium as a gas but much cheaper, so it’s time that it be designed to be used safely, certainly more safe than actual rockets. Hydrogen would afford needed oxygen too from a single water electrolysis machine and compressor on the ground. Setting the balloon on fire after separation might be a bonus display, even. Helium is so rare that its a shame to use so much at once unless new membranes can finally retain it for a whole season, which I doubt is yet possible. At that high, a somewhat different design would allow extended weightless free fall, to compete with Space. The millionaires, early on, should help free up so many legal restrictions on private flight, including use of hydrogen.

  2. Doug Proctor says:

    Another reason my kids aren’t going to inherit any money.

  3. tallbloke says:

    Nik: Good thinking. I was considering the profligate use of rare helium myself. I guess lightning strikes would be the main worry for a hydrogen filled balloon.

  4. hunter says:

    How awesome.
    H2 is too reactive, I think. It could react with the material of the balloon. and of course in the presence an oxidant it can burn very easily.
    He is much safer and easier to handle, except for its leakiness. But I believe there is a large baseline of experience with that.

  5. NikFromNYC says:

    You would micro-encapsulate the hydrogen somehow, in a fine foam of membranes, where devoid of oxygen, it is rendered nonflammable. The Zeppelin era simply lacked nanostructured carriers.

  6. tallbloke says:

    Nik: they’d need to be spandex membranes, those balloons get a lot bigger as they gain altitude and the pressure differential increases. They’d have to be uberlight too.

  7. Brian H says:

    And a stray micro-meteoroid would make for a dramatic high-altitude encounter.