Catch a Ride to Space on a Space Balloon!
French space balloon startup Zephalto recently announced that they are taking reservations for their first flight to space aboard a balloon...for the low, low price of $132,000!
If you are like me, and you've ever dreamed of taking a ride to the stars, this might be the best opportunity you'll get! Zephalto has spent the past 7 years developing their flagship capsule, Celeste, to take people to the edge of space in a pressurized cabin with two pilots at the helm. The entire journey is slated to last 6 hours. The first 1.5 hours will be spent ascending to apogee, which will be an elevation of around 25 km above the earth (15-ish miles). Once there, guests will have three hours to take in the incredible views. Then, there will be a 1.5 hour descent back to the space port on earth. While at apogee, one will be able to experience the "Overview Effect", which is to say one will be able to discern the curvature of the earth. The balloon will sit above 98% of the earth's atmosphere, so one should also be able to see the darkness of space in contrast with the earth's blue glow. But, because the altitude is still relatively low (compared with satellites, the International Space Station, etc.), passengers will not experience zero gravity.
In addition to being a cool opportunity of a lifetime, Zephalto is making this a very eco-friendly trip as well. They claim that each journey will have no more environmental impact than that of manufacturing a single pair of blue jeans. Their goal is to create space travel that harmonizes with nature.
Zephalto plans to open space ports across the world in the near future, so if you don't think you can make the trip to France for the inaugural flight in 2024, you will likely have other opportunities closer to home in the not so distant future. They also plan to make flights available for private endeavors as well, such as weddings, parties, etc.