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.
Planetary Resources, the group of world leaders charged with building the ground floor opportunities for a space travel industry, needs our help. One of those opportunities involves mining asteroids, believed to hold riches beyond belief. Developing technology that will enable travel to those pots of gold is already a daunting task, but the real concern is finding those asteroids in the first place. Luckily, Planetary Resources has a plan.
This week, Planetary Resources announced plans to empower citizen scientists to aid in the search for potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) and support planetary defense. Funded by the ARKYD Kickstarter (if it reaches $1.7 million by Sunday, and you can help make that happen), Planetary Resources will partner with Zooniverse to create Asteroid Zoo, a program to find potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) at home.Asteroid Zoo will allow students, citizen scientists and space enthusiasts to search through terabytes of data collected by Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) for undiscovered asteroids in a fun, game-like process from their personal computers, and help train computers to better find them in the future.
Sound interesting? Want to have a hand in forging the future of space travel for all? Check out this video from Planetary Resources with Chief Asteroid Miner Chris Lewicki:
So you’re on your way to Mars and forgot to pay a bill back on Earth. Before today, there would really be no way to do that, what with interplanetary currency still undefined. No problem. Now, on its 15th anniversary, PayPal announced the launch of PayPal Galactic and there is indeed a way to make universal space payments.
“Trips to Mars, the moon, even orbit will require we provide astronauts and astro-tourists with as many comforts from home as possible, including how to pay each other,” said astronaut/author Buzz Aldrin in an announcement made with PayPal President David Marcus reported by Laboratory Equipment.
PayPal Galactic addresses concerns of the SETI Institute and Space Tourism Society about how to prepare and support the future of space commerce. Working with PayPal, leaders in the space industry will address real life questions ranging from what currency will look like in a cash-free interplanetary society to the evolution of risk and fraud management.
“Whether it’s paying a bill, even helping a family member on Earth, we’ll need access to money. I think humans will reach Mars, and I would like to see it happen in my lifetime,” said Aldrin.Right now the need for PayPal Galactic exists, with astronauts manning the International Space Station year-round. “Within five to 10 years the earliest types of ‘space hotels’ and orbital and lunar commerce will be operational and in need of a payment system,” said John Spencer, founder and president of the Space Tourism Society.
Do you find yourself bored by the typical hotel’s amenities? Butler services, organic mini bars and other bells and whistles just don’t do it for you anymore? Well how about staying in a hotel with a vertical wind tunnel? And maybe after that you can unwind in the world’s first zero-gravity spa? It sounds pretty out there, but those features are actually part of the plans for a Space Hotel in Barcelona, Spain.
The company behind the project, Mobilona, recently announced their vision for the complex, which includes a hotel, private apartments, a 24-hour shopping mall and a marina. All of this would be built on a Dubai-style, man-made island giving guests sea views no matter which way their room faces. A stay in the 2,000-suite hotel – which looks like something out of a sci-fi movie – would cost between 300 and 1500 euros per night.However, Barcelona’s mayor insists he won’t have any of it, saying the futuristic hotel doesn’t fit with his vision of the city’s future. “We have no intention of turning Barcelona into a spectacle,” he told local media. Despite this, plans for the space-age hotel may live to see another day, with the Mobilona announcing similar projects in Los Angeles and Hong Kong.
It’s official. We Canadians rock. If William Shatner and Bryan Adams aren’t enough for you, there’s Chris Hadfield. He’s an astronaut with the Canadian Space Agency and has become hugely popular with his videos about life aboard the International Space Station, answering such profound questions as how to cut your nails in space.
Now Hadfield is coming home. He’s turned over command of the ISS to Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov and will be departing on a Soyuz module, which will land in Kazakhstan today at 10:31 p.m. EDT. As a final sendoff, he’s made the first music video in space, a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Hadfield isn’t a bad musician, and the video has beautiful visuals of him on the ISS.
Put it on full screen, sit back and enjoy. It’s a great day to be Canadian.