Newest Space Tourism Venture To Dangle Travelers From A Helium Balloon

Helium Balloon Space Tourism Flight
Photo: World View Enterprises, Inc

Another day, another space tourism venture announced-but this one caught our attention for being a little different from most. Rather than shooting travelers up in rockets, an American company says it’s planning to dangle space tourists in a capsule attached to a helium balloon.

World View Enterprises will use a helium balloon to slowly lift travelers up to the edge of space as they sit in a luxurious space capsule. After the ride is over, the capsule will detach from the helium balloon and float back down to Earth with the aid of a parachute. While that all sounds a little precarious, the company says balloons like this have been sent into space for decades and the whole process is actually quite low-risk.The helium balloon rides will take travelers up about 20 miles into the sky. Although that’s not technically space, which is around 60 miles up, travelers will still be in for a nice view that includes being able to see the curvature of the earth.

And if space travel has mostly sounded like the domain of the super rich so far, the good news is that the balloon space trip will be somewhat more affordable than the other options that have been proposed. A two-hour journey will set you back about $75,000, which is a fair deal cheaper than Virgin Galactic’s space flights that cost a quarter of a million dollars. Tickets for the World View space flights are expected to go on sale in a few months.

Two “Sea Serpents” Found Off Coast of California

Screenshot BBC

Marine biologists are having a heyday in California, where in the last week a rarely seen species of fish has washed ashore, not once, but twice.

In the last week, two carcasses of oarfish have washed ashore. The first one measured in at 18 feet long, and the second one, found by a group of third-graders on a school trip, was 14 feet long.

Sightings of the extremely large deep-sea creature, which can grow up to 50 feet, are rare, as oarfish tend to swim thousands of feet below the surface. While dead, the fish appear to be in good health.

“It looks good enough to eat – if you have a 13ft pan,” biologist Ruff Zetter told the BBC.So why have two of these rare fish washed up in the last week? In the wake of the sightings, many have cited an old Japanese myth that links oarfish sightings to earthquakes. But scientists aren’t so sure. What’s more likely is that these fish are poor swimmers, and a current simply could have carried them into rough waters.

For now, if you’re in the mood to see a sea serpent, your best odds are in Southern California as the Catalina Island Marine Institute will likely keep the fish skeleton for educational purposes.

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There’s a Japanese Travel Agency for Stuffed Animals (Because of Course There Is)

Unagi Travel, Facebook

You think you’re feeling cooped up and need to get out and explore? What about that teddy bear of yours that hasn’t emerged from your storage closet since 1985?

A Japanese travel agency, Unagi Travel, which calls itself a “travel agency for stuffed animals,” has been taking plush animals on trips for the last three years. Why? To allow their owners to live vicariously through them. In fact, many of Unagi Travel’s customers are physically impaired. Well, and photos of traveling stuffed animals are cute.​”I want to see and walk around the sights that I viewed through my stuffed animal’s journeys someday,” said a 51-year-old woman, impaired by an illness that makes it difficult for her to walk, to the Japan News.

Unagi Travel’s Sonoe Azuma has shepherded more than 200 stuffed animals on trips. Be it a bike tour of Tokyo or a cross-Pacific journey to the United States, Azuma posts many of the photos of the traveling stuffed animals on Unagi Travel’s Facebook page (which is about to become your time waster of the day).

Stuffed animal travel is decidedly more affordable than the human kind: tours are priced between $20 and $55, depending on what the stuffed animals are getting up to. And just in case your stuffed animal likes the element of surprise, there are mystery tours, where your stuffed friend takes off to an unknown location.

Sound weird? Azuma’s clients love it; according to her about 40 percent of her clientele are repeat customers.

“I’m happy if my activities encourage those who can’t be positive to take a step forward,” Azuma said.

Just like your garden gnome taking a trip around the world, but better.

Voodoo Zip Line Will Soon Soar Over Vegas

zip line
Voodoo Zipline photo

Opening in November, the Voodoo Zip Line will connect two towers at Las Vegas’ Rio casino. Starting at the 50th floor of the Masquerade Tower at the VooDoo Steakhouse, riders will travel a third-mile to the 20th floor of the Impanema Tower in about 70 seconds. Riders soar nearly 500 feet above Las Vegas at 33 miles per hour.

Need more zip line? Voodoo Skyline is not the only one in Vegas. Slotzilla, located at the Fremont Street Experience, lets riders take off from a 12 story high slot machine-like platform just below the Viva Vision canopy. Flying at a choice of either 70 or 110 feet above Fremont Street, this one looks to be a tamer version of the Voodoo Zip Line. Interesting, but a one-way ride.Riders on the Voodoo Zip Line will travel 845 feet from tower to tower then make a return trip via a motorized pulley system, traveling backward at 25 mph.

New Mapping Trend: Follow the Penguins

When Sunshine Aquarium in Tokyo wanted to stand out among other tourist attractions in the busy city, they turned to penguins. Visitors using the Penguin Navi app on their wireless device just follow the little digital birds through the city, which leads them to the aquarium.

The idea taps the world of augmented reality and has been a hit with tourists. Without changing any exhibits, Sunshine has increased its attendance by more than 150%.