If you thought the Red Bull Stratos project -- in which a skydiver ascended to the edge of outer space in a helium balloon and jumped -- was so ridiculously cool, then you'll want to keep reading.
Tucson, Ariz.-based Paragon Space Development Corp. is building a helium-filled balloon that it hopes will be able to transport as many as eight passengers to an altitude of about 100,000 feet, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. One hundred thousand feet gets you to the stratosphere, or basically the cusp of outer space.
The balloon is expected to have a diameter as long as a football field. Plans call for the cabin in which passengers to ride to be a high-tech, 4-ton, highly pressurized gondola equipped with life-support systems and large windows so people can take in the awe-inspiring panoramic views of the earth. No space suits or oxygen tanks necessary.
Each journey could last about six hours. Seems like plenty of time to get your wanna-be astronaut on.
While Paragon Space Development doesn't plan to take passengers into space like other projects from big-name entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and Elon Musk, the $70,000 price tag is considerably less than what's been talked about from those other projects.
The goal is "bringing space to the masses as much as we can," Taber MacCallum, Paragon's chief executive and co-founder, told the paper.
Paragon is expected to begin taking paying customers up in its giant balloon starting in 2016 -- as long as tests go well and regulatory issues don't get in the way. So, yeah, they're still working on many of the details.
But this isn't all that Paragon has up its figurative, tech-crazy sleeve. The startup is working with a non-profit group called the Inspiration Mars Foundation that -- get this -- wants to take passengers within a couple hundred miles of Mars.
OK, mind = blown.
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