Beijing start-up plans to offer 'low-cost' space travel in ultra-high balloon
A private company in Beijing is hoping to build a craft to take people 40km above the earth
A private mainland company plans to offer near-space tourism for ordinary people in a high altitude balloon, according to a Beijing newspaper.
Passengers would ascend to 40,000 metres in a pressurised capsule, where they would enjoy not just the spectacular view of the earth's curvature set against a backdrop of deep, dark space, but a few moments of reduced gravity, according to Spacevision, a start-up in Beijing, The Mirror reported.
The project was still in its "design phase" while the launch date and ticket prices were yet to be determined.
The extreme balloon ride would also face hurdles such as safety laws and the government's strict regulation of civilian air space, a mainland space expert said.
According to the report, the capsule would be carried up by a balloon filled with non-toxic and non-flammable helium and descend under a large parachute.
Passengers would also be equipped with special parachutes and jumpsuits supplied with oxygen that would enable them to bail out of the capsule at high altitude.
Though the company had not provided an estimated cost of a seat, a similar service provided by US company World View Enterprises charges US$75,000 per passenger.
Though the balloon could take passengers to the brink of earth's atmosphere, the ascent would be far lower than the 100km-altitude achieved by commercial rocket-powered space planes such as Virgin Galactic's' SpaceShipTwo.
On its website, Spacevision claims they are China's first private company to offer space tourism. The company's president, Jiang Fang, called on lawmakers to draft legislation for private space activities as soon as possible, The Mirror reported.
A space scientist with the Beijing University of Aeronautic and Astronautics said that the government had expressed their interest on numerous occasions in the involvement of private businesses in space projects.
"But private rocket launch could raise military and safety concerns," the scientist said.
Quelle: South China Morning Post