To the edge of the earth

A project is in the works to take passengers on balloon flights to the edge of the earth where they will be able to observe the planet’s curvature.

World View is literally what the passengers on board balloon flights to the edge of the earth will be able to see.

A collaboration between London-based global travel and transport design consultancy, Priestmangoode, and the Tuscon-based Paragon Space Development Corporation has resulted in the design of a concept capsule that can carry eight people to more than 30 kilometres by means of a helium balloon. The ascent will take between one and a half to two hours. The capsule will then spend between two and six hours at the intended altitude of 30 kilometres before returning to earth over the course of 20 to 40 minutes.

According to Paragon, people on board will “experience the space environment, including a period of weightlessness and the iconic space view: a curved earth with its thin blue atmosphere against the blackness of space.”

The extended length of time spent in space was a significant driver for the design of the vessel. As Priestmangoode director Nigel Goode explained: “The idea of space travel naturally brings to mind traditional rocket ships and the aerodynamic forms they command. However, the World View experience is not about speed. It’s about enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime journey. We didn’t just want to design a vessel, we wanted to define what commercial space travel could be.”

The capsule’s key design features are the large panoramic windows constructed from an array of small high-pressure units.

"It was crucial to find a way to maximise the viewing windows,” Goode said. "In our initial design meetings with the World View team, they talked about wanting to start the journey before dawn, so that as passengers rose up to space, they would be able to observe the sunrise, the curvature of the earth, the thin blue atmosphere and the blackness of space. The windows we designed offer the maximum amount of viewing space for passengers, whilst meeting stringent safety requirements. There is also a cupola viewing dome for unrestricted view of the earth’s curvature."

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