A Japanese Firm Introduces Space Viewing Trips Via Balloon Flights

A Japanese Firm Introduces Space Viewing Trips Via Balloon Flights

A Japanese business intends to bring an otherwise extremely expensive experience to Earth by launching commercial space viewing balloon flights, which it revealed intentions to accomplish on Tuesday.

According to Keisuke Iwaya, CEO of the company, passengers do not have to be multibillionaires, undergo rigorous training, or speak a foreign language in order to travel in a rocket.

“It’s safe, economical and gentle for people,” Iwaya told reporters. “The idea is to make space tourism for everyone.” He said he wants to “democratize space.”

The Sapporo, northern Japan-based company Iwaya Giken has been working on the project since 2012. It claims to have created an airtight two-seat cabin and a balloon that can reach an altitude of 25 kilometers (15 miles), at which point the Earth’s arc may be seen clearly. Passengers will get an unhindered view of space and be higher than a jet plane but still not actually being in space because the balloon only ascends to about the middle of the stratosphere.

The company partnered with JTB Corp., a well-known travel agency in Japan, which declared that it will work with the company on the project once it is prepared for a business trip. Iwaya stated that his ultimate goal is to lower the cost of a flight from the current 24 million yen ($180,000) to a few million yen (tens of thousands of dollars).

Iwaya stated that his goal is to make space more accessible, even if Japanese space endeavors are lagging behind American businesses like SpaceX.

In April, SpaceX paid $55 million per to fly three wealthy businessmen and an astronaut escort to the International Space Station. This was the company’s first private charter voyage to the orbiting laboratory, following two years of NASA astronaut missions.

The Iwaya Giken vessel, however, will be raised by helium that can be mainly recycled, according to business executives, and flights will safely remain above Japanese territory or airspace, unlike a rocket or a hot air balloon. The first journey could take place later this year.

The balloon, which can accommodate a pilot and a passenger, would launch from a Hokkaido balloon port, climb to a height of up to 25 kilometers (15 miles) in two hours, and then descend for an hour. According to the business, the 1.5-meter (4.9-foot) diameter plastic drum-shaped habitat features multiple huge windows that provide a view of the Earth below or space above.

On Tuesday, applications for a space viewing ride were available, and they will remain open until the end of August. According to corporate authorities, the first five people chosen will be revealed in October. Depending on the weather, flights may depart every week or so.