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Forum:Commercial Space - Military Space
Topic:World View commercial balloon near-space flights
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World View's head scientist is former NASA science chief Alan Stern, who also leads the agency's New Horizons mission to Pluto.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently concluded that World View's spacecraft and operations fall under the jurisdiction of the office of Commercial Space Flight, company officials said.

See here for discussion of World View Enterprise's high-altitude balloon flights.
Robert PearlmanWorld View Enterprises release
NASA astronaut Mark Kelly named Director of Flight Crew Operations for World View Enterprises' human flights to the edge of space

World View Enterprises, Inc. (World View) has announced that former astronaut Mark Kelly will be Director of Flight Crew Operations. A retired U.S. Navy test pilot and Space Shuttle Commander, Kelly will play a central role in the start-up commercial space business, which began taking reservations today for its accessible, affordable trips to the edge of space via high-altitude balloon.

During his career in the U.S. Navy, Kelly accumulated 6,000 flight hours in more than 50 different aircraft with 375 aircraft carrier landings. He flew 39 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm. He later joined NASA's astronaut corps, where he piloted two Space Shuttle flights and commanded two others, including Endeavour on its final mission.

"Having served 25 years as an aviator and astronaut, Mark possesses the prowess and acumen needed to pioneer this exciting new regime of flight at the edge of space," said Jane Poynter, CEO of World View. "As Director of Flight Crew Operations, he will provide the necessary technical expertise to our development program, as well as manage World View's one-of-a-kind flights and top-notch flight crew."

World View will provide a spectacular, nearspace human flight experience unlike any other suborbital flight experience being offered today. Passengers, dubbed "Voyagers," will board a luxuriously appointed, space-qualified capsule that will be gently lifted by a high-altitude balloon to 100,000 feet. There, they will float in the edge of space for approximately two hours, absorbing breathtaking views of the planet, the blackness of space and the stars, before gliding back to Earth.

"For decades, only select, highly trained individuals have been able to leave the boundaries of Earth and experience space travel," Kelly said. "Now, World View is offering private individuals the opportunity to gain a new perspective of the world we live in. I am thrilled to be part of this project and look forward to the start of operations."

Component testing of the World View capsule is currently underway. Subscale testing will begin early next year, demonstrating the flight characteristics of the World View system, compliance with regulatory standards and the overall integrity of the design.

The company's nearspace flight operations are expected to begin in late 2016 at $75,000 per ticket. For information on becoming a World View Voyager visit

Beyond space travel capabilities, World View presents significant research and education opportunities. On board the capsule in a shirtsleeves environment, researchers and educators can conduct human-tended and non-tended activities at 1/600th the cost of a ride to the International Space Station. To support these initiatives, World View has created a Research and Education Advisory Committee consisting of a professor of space technology, senior scientists, solar physicist and world experts in high-altitude ballooning and atmospheric research.

Robert PearlmanWorld View Enterprises release
World View Breaks World Record with Successful Test Flight for 2016 Journeys to Edge of Space

Sets World Record for Highest Parafoil Flight; Completes Full Flight Profile

Representing a milestone accomplishment, World View, the commercial balloon spaceflight company, has successfully completed a scaled test flight of its high-altitude balloon spaceflight system breaking the world record for highest parafoil flight in the process. The flight launched from Roswell International Air Center in Roswell, NM on June 18 at 7:45 a.m. MT and lasted more than five hours.

Launching in 2016, World View will have Voyagers floating peacefully to the edge of space for a two-hour sailing-like experience within a luxuriously engineered pressurized capsule transported by a parafoil and high-altitude balloon. Guests will enjoy 360-degree vistas of the world's most spectacular panorama, marveling at the beauty of the Earth below, watching the sun slowly rise above the curvature of our planet suspended in a vast, black and infinite universe. In addition to offering breathtaking experiences for Voyagers, the capabilities being developed by World View will offer unprecedented and affordable access to the near-space environment for educators, researchers, private companies and government agencies alike.

Above: The World View parafoil flying at an altitude of 50,000 ft., breaking the world record for highest parafoil flight. Credit: World View

The test validated the full flight profile of the spaceflight system, lifting a 10 percent scale system to 120,000 feet to the edge of space and back down to 50,000 feet where the transition to a parafoil was successfully executed, breaking the world record. This allowed for further validation of the precision guided landing system of the space vehicle.

The flight tested several essential components for consumer flights and captured breathtaking imagery of the view that will be afforded to Voyagers in 2016.

The test flight focused on four main areas:

  • Launch & Ground Operations. After months of development and planning, the crew set out to validate the pre-, during and post-flight ground systems, protocols and operations (including the method that will be used to launch the actual space capsule) that set the foundation for full-scale consumer flights.

  • Redundant Landing System. The flight validated the deployment process of a backup safety parafoil (which is stowed in the top of the vehicle), successfully validating one of the redundant systems of the spaceflight.

  • Parafoil Aerodynamics. Setting the record for the highest parafoil flight ever conducted, the vehicle rose to an altitude of approximately 120,000 feet and back down to 50,000 feet where a parafoil was deployed to capture data characterizing the aerodynamic behavior of a parafoil flying from the stratosphere. Parafoils routinely fly around 30,000 feet but have never been flown at the altitudes achieved by this World View test flight.

  • Precision Guided Landing. The guidance system that enables the vehicle to make a precision landing and safely return the vehicle to Earth was also tested and performed as expected. The system was previously tested at lower altitudes at Yuma Proving Ground.

"We couldn't be any more excited about the results from this test flight," said Jane Poynter, CEO of World View. "It represents a foundational achievement that moves us one step closer to offering a life-changing experience to our Voyagers."

World View has a number of strategic partners in this historic endeavor. Paragon Space Development Corporation has decades of experience developing life support and space-related technologies. Paragon is leading the design and development of the World View space capsule. United Parachute Technologies, Performance Designs and MMIST, all leaders in pioneering parachute technology, are providing expertise and support for the development of the flight system's airborne guidance unit and innovative parafoil. Mark Procos, GM of United Parachute Technologies, commented, "We're thrilled to be working with World View and Paragon to contribute to such an exciting initiative. Alongside MMIST and Performance Designs, we make a great team that brings decades of parachuting experience to the project."

This test flight represents the maiden voyage of World View's Tycho vehicle, a reusable commercial craft that enables research opportunities in fields including communications, surveillance, remote sensing, first response and micro-sat payload delivery. Available for commercialization opportunities today, Tycho will provide low-cost access to the near-space environment for researchers, private companies and government agencies alike.

The Tycho flight was also certified as an Explorer's Club Flag Mission — carrying the historical Explorer's Club Flag along with a World View flag signed by members of the Explorers Club.

Robert PearlmanWorld View video release
Join Our Mission. Voyage to the Edge of Space

At World View, we stand for more than just human spaceflight. World View is about giving people an entirely new perspective on the world. One that helps us understand that we live on a planet suspended in space, and that this planet, our home, is all that we have.

Voyage to the edge of space for a transformational travel experience like never before. Float gracefully to 100,000 feet and soak in an incredible, life-changing view for hours. It's a humbling experience. A peaceful one. One that will fundamentally change your view of the world.

Robert PearlmanWorld View Enterprises release
World View Announces Pathfinder Program for Research and Education Payloads

World View Enterprises, the commercial spaceflight balloon company, has announced plans to fly research and education payloads during its balloon test flight phase as part of its newly launched Pathfinder program.

World View has selected three initial Pathfinder payloads to fly on its delivery platforms beginning in late 2014. The payloads will be transported to altitudes as high as 120,000 feet via high-altitude balloon for the collection of scientific data. The initial Pathfinder payload institutions, payloads, and their Principal Investigators (PIs) include:
  • Space Environment Technologies: Dr. W. Kent Tobiska; Stratospheric Automated Radiation Measurements for Aerospace Safety
  • SETI Institute: Dr. Peter Jenniskens; Meteor Imager
  • Florida Space Grant Consortium: Dr. Jaydeep Mukherjee; Student Ozone Monitor
“World View’s research and education Pathfinder program represents a major milestone and demonstrates our commitment to opening routine access to high-altitude balloon flights to these communities,” said Dr. Alan Stern, World View chief scientist and co-founder.

Taber MacCallum, co-founder and World View chief technical officer added, “As we work toward launching consumer space flights in late 2016, we’re pleased to be able to leverage our test flights to make a significant, positive impact right now on the fields of research and education. We’re especially proud to be working with such accomplished principal investigators for our initial Pathfinder payload flights.”

World View plans to fly a broad range of research and education payloads on its various stratospheric balloon systems, including the recently flight-tested and validated Tycho system. Tycho is a reusable commercial craft designed to offer low-cost access to the near-space environment (up to 130,000 feet) and is capable of flying small research and education payloads for a wide variety of applications, including atmospheric research, technology demonstrations for space flight and education. World View will offer similar opportunities on board its larger vehicles, including manned commercial flights with a float altitude of 100,000 feet, scheduled to begin in late 2016.
Robert PearlmanWorld View Enterprises release
World View Releases Stunning Footage Of Sunrise From Space

Breathtaking Space Video Previews What World View Voyagers Will Experience

World View Enterprises, the commercial balloon spaceflight company, is releasing actual footage from a recent flight of the awe-inspiring view Voyagers will experience during their journey to the edge of space. This footage depicts the sun rising over the curvature of the Earth as rays of light reflect off the cloud layer to create a majestic glow.

"Part of our goal with World View is to provide a perspective-changing view of our world," said CEO Jane Poynter. "Our Voyagers will witness our Earth suspended in the inky blackness of space, then see it illuminated by a stunning sunrise. So many astronauts have gone to space to see infinity, but when they turn around and see Earth they fall in love with it. It shifts the way they think about things and we want to give that experience to as many people as possible."

With World View, Voyagers will float peacefully to the edge of space via high-altitude balloon in a first-class capsule equipped with amenities for the discerning explorer, such as Wi-Fi and an onboard bar. A 360-degree view of the most stunning vistas known to man can be seen as the capsule glides along at peak altitude of 100,000 feet for one to two hours. Passengers will have ample time to soak up the rare views of the curvature of the Earth and the spectacular sunrise. With a deposit towards the $75,000 ticket, guests can secure their flight to behold the beauty of Earth and wonder of the universe.

Mark Kelly, former NASA astronaut and World View Director of Flight Operations said, "During my time in space I saw countless sunrises over Earth, but I will never cease to be amazed by the sight. Seeing the sun light up our planet is one of the most spectacular experiences possible."

In addition to passenger flights, World View is also opening the stratosphere to research, education, and commercial opportunities. This video was captured on such a flight, in collaboration with Moon Express and Tencent, the latter of which is a World View investor.

Robert PearlmanWorld View Enterprises release
World View One Step Closer To Manned Near-Space Voyages With Record-Breaking Flight

World View and United Parachute Technologies Successfully Fly Parafoil at 102,200 Feet

World View, the commercial balloon spaceflight company, is one step closer to launching manned voyages after successfully flying the first parafoil from the edge of space at a record-breaking height of 102,200 feet this morning.

With extremely limited air pressure and density at this high altitude, flying a parafoil is an incredible feat. This achievement signifies a major milestone for World View as this is the same altitude at which future manned flights will transition to the parafoil, which will be responsible for easing passengers gently down to Earth from the stratosphere. While World View has flown high-altitude balloons to this height before, this is the first time a parafoil has been flown at the edge of space.

With this flight, World View announces a partnership with United Parachute Technologies (UPT) in conjunction with Performance Designs, which co-designed the breakthrough technology and will provide parafoil systems for both unmanned research flights and journeys to the edge of space. As the global leader in parafoil and recovery systems, UPT brings decades of experience and expertise to help World View accelerate forward and continue to make breakthroughs in technology. In the months ahead, UPT will work closely with World View’s aerodynamic systems team to design and build an advanced descent system capable of returning payloads of increasingly higher masses.

“The accomplishments of this flight further our two main objectives of manned spaceflight and advancing research,” said Taber MacCallum, World View’s Chief Technology Officer. “The successful flight of the parafoil at this altitude brings us closer to flying private citizens safely to the edge of space and also allows us to continue our research and education program by providing safe access to the near-space environment.”

This flight’s payload contained experiments from two universities. Montana State University tested a computer system designed to achieve increased reliability in extreme environments as well as a low-cost tracking and high-definition video link, which they hope to use to capture the 2017 solar eclipse on video. The University of North Florida flew experimental technology to measure the ozone gas profile in the stratosphere using a nanocrystalline gas sensor array. All three experiments are a result of student efforts over multiple years. The research and education payloads flown by World View are part of the company’s commitment to opening routine access to high-altitude balloon flights as well as its dedication to advancing STEM programs in schools.
Robert PearlmanWorld View Enterprises release
Major World View Test Flight Readies the Company to Begin Full Scale Flight Testing for Human Private Spaceflights

Successful Completion of Flight Enables Next Stage of Full Scale Test Flights

World View, the commercial spaceflight company, has successfully completed a major milestone test flight this past weekend, keeping the company on track to meet its 2017 goal for private flights with passengers to the edge of space. This test flight carried a scaled down, replica spacecraft to a final altitude of 100,475 feet (30624 meters), successfully marking the transition from sub-scale testing to a historical next stage of development – full scale testing.

This sub-scale test flight demonstrated foundational technologies necessary for regular, operational flight, and proves that commercial flight to the edge of space via high-altitude balloon will serve as a viable and major form of transport in the emerging private space travel industry. The flight launched from Page, Arizona, one of the locations from where World View plans to fly Voyagers to the edge of space.

World View's Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Jane Poynter attributes the success to the incredible team of engineers at World View, many of whom were part of the StratEx Space Dive program that carried former Google Executive Alan Eustace to 136,000 feet beneath a high-altitude balloon in October 2014. "Our team is comprised of some of the best aerospace engineers in the world and they've achieved some major technological advancements in the last few months. Those efforts have resulted in new and innovative technologies that will, without a doubt, make private travel to the edge of space routine in the years to come. This test flight is symbolic of a major step towards a new era of accessible space travel for us all."

Before advancing to full-scale system testing, World View needed to combine two critical achievements from past milestone flights; high-altitude parafoil flight and full flight operations with a sub-scale payload. After months of innovation, design and component testing, this flight successfully achieved all objectives.

High-altitude ballooning technology has been around for decades, but developing a human-rated flight system to allow for a flawless launch, gentle ride and pinpoint landing required World View to innovate on existing technology. In particular, this test flight focused on demonstrating three key flight features:

  • Gentle Liftoff– The balloon that will carry the World View spacecraft expands to around the size of a football stadium (or ~14 million cubic feet) when fully inflated so the method of routinely launching the Voyager flight system is a key enabling technology. The launch method for this successful test was the same as is planned for the World View Voyager flight system, and largely the same hardware that will be used for the upcoming full scale flights.

  • Seamless Transition– The transition from balloon float at the edge of space to aerodynamic flight requires that the spacecraft detach from the high-altitude balloon and gracefully begin flying to the landing site. Making this transition smooth in the vacuum of near space is a key enabler for flights with passengers. Together with its partner United Parachute Technologies (world leaders and pioneers of innovative aerodynamic descent technology), World View has now developed and flight-tested protected intellectual property that will enable these improved transitions in the vacuum of near space, a critical milestone for routine human flight.

  • Smooth Descent– Thanks to the help of its partner MMIST, the global leader in precision aerial delivery, World View's spacecraft will use a high-tech aerodynamic descent system that will allow the pilot and flight team to land the spacecraft at a pre-determined landing strip. While the World View spacecraft will sail with the winds on ascent, the flight team and pilot will have full control on descent. This descent system was demonstrated and proven successful during this test flight, meaning smooth and accurate descent trajectories for future World View flights.

Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder Taber MacCallum said, "While each individual system has been analyzed and extensively tested in previous test flights, this significant milestone allowed us to test and prove all critical flight systems at once. Now we're ready for the next major phase of development – full scale system testing."

World View will now prepare for a series of full scale test flights in the months to come. These tests will use a flight test article with mass and aerodynamics equivalent to the World View Voyager spacecraft.

Commercial flights with Voyagers are scheduled to begin in 2017, when passengers will pay $75,000 each to travel to the edge of space and witness a sunrise against the curvature of the Earth and the blackness of space. The final capsule will be comfortably styled, offering Wi-Fi, a bar and a lavatory for Voyagers as they float along the edge of space for one-to-two hours at peak altitude of 100,000 feet.

Robert PearlmanWorld View Enterprises release
World View to Launch from Spaceport Tucson, Arizona

Development of Spaceport Tucson Sparked by World View's Permanent Residence

Arizona is poised to become a hub for the space tech industry, as World View — the commercial balloon spaceflight company — today announced that Tucson will become home to its global headquarters, conducting launches from Spaceport Tucson. The announcement follows today's affirmative vote on a public-private partnership with World View and Pima County, working in collaboration with the City of Tucson, Sun Corridor, Inc. and the State of Arizona.

World View will be the anchor tenant in the County Aerospace, Defense and Technology Business and Research Park, and its campus will include the world's first purpose-built stratospheric ballooning facility, ushering in a partnership that's projected to lead to the creation of more than 400 jobs. World View will operate the Pima County-owned Spaceport Tucson, Arizona's first launch pad dedicated to space endeavors. As a public asset, the Spaceport will serve to draw other businesses to the area, and will be available for use by other companies in Arizona. The new World View campus will be located directly adjacent to Spaceport Tucson, with move-in slated for late 2016.

World View is a technology company pioneering flight at the edge of space using innovative and proprietary high-altitude balloons and flight technologies. In addition to taking passengers to near space in a sealed capsule for transformative views of the Earth, a major component of its business is robotic flight. The same balloons are used as satellites to orbit the planet or hover over a single location, and can be used to fly instruments for communications, weather, Earth observation, and surveillance and research, all without needing a rocket propulsion as does a typical satellite. The markets for this technology are significant, and World View already flies payloads for NASA, Northrop Grumman and others. The company is backed by an international group of investors who are industry captains in technology, travel and finance.

"Spaceport Tucson sends a strong message to the aerospace community that Southern Arizona is a new center for the commercial space business," said Jane Poynter, CEO, World View, "Arizona has now joined the rapidly growing list of states in the commercial space industry."

Sharon Bronson, chair of the Pima County Board of Supervisors said, "Economic Development is like a journey to space, it takes extensive planning, a lot of hard work and bold action to achieve. World View and Pima County have embarked on a great and bold journey together today. I can't wait to see that first balloon rise up to the heavens and see the stars."

The new World View campus will include:

  • Spaceport Tucson: Lofting Arizona into the private space industry, the launch pad at Spaceport Tucson will serve as the site of World View's spaceflight operations, and will be available for use by other companies in Arizona.
  • Balloon Manufacturing Facility: The new campus will house the company's balloon manufacturing facility where it will produce the balloons that will carry its spacecraft and other payloads up to 140,000 feet above Earth.
  • Work Space: The World View campus will house World View's flight operations control center, engineering and testing facilities, a launch observation balcony, and a spacecraft integration high bay.
Additionally, World View will maintain its initiatives within the educational community to help local students develop an interest in science and engineering. Through various partnerships throughout the state, the World View team has worked directly with students to grant them a new perspective on how science and math can be utilized outside of a school setting and to inspire the next generation of the spaceflight industry.
Robert PearlmanWorld View Enterprises release
World View Taps Astronaut Ron Garan as Chief Pilot

With More Than 178 Days Logged in Orbit, Ron Garan Now at the Helm for Edge-of-Space Robotic and Passenger Flights via High-Altitude Balloon

World View, the commercial balloon spaceflight company, has named retired NASA astronaut Ron Garan as chief pilot for current robotic flight operations and upcoming human spaceflights via balloon. A highly decorated fighter pilot, test pilot and astronaut who traveled 71,075,867 miles in 2,842 orbits of Earth, Garan will be responsible for the safe and successful completion of all flight operations, including uncrewed robotic launches and passenger flights to the edge of space.

"I am thrilled to join a team that embraces the same entrepreneurial spirit that launched the aviation industry and understands that true innovation is not just doing something that already exists better, but doing something completely new that revolutionizes or creates industries," said Garan. "In addition to bringing people to the edge of space for a transformative experience, World View is currently conducting an unprecedented frequency of commercial payload flights to the stratosphere and I'm excited to be on board for this important mission."

Click here to read Ron's blog post on Fragile Oasis.

World View CEO and co-founder Jane Poynter said, "World View mirrors Ron's passions for not only aviation, but also humanitarian efforts. Together, we'll continue to pursue our company's mission of helping humanity through our technology, such as supporting disaster recovery operations."

Currently flying payloads for research, weather and more, World View is opening up unprecedented access to the stratosphere. The company's proprietary balloon technology is used as a satellite orbiting the planet or hovering over a single location for many months, allowing for a myriad of research and commercial applications including, but not limited to:

  • Weather and climate modeling
  • Research such as astronomy, solar physics and atmospheric science
  • Earth observations
  • First Response support
  • Early forest fire detection
  • Agriculture remote sensing
Garan will also work with World View to use innovative flight technology to fly the first passengers to the edge of space, achieving a milestone in spaceflight. Additionally, World View will be jumpstarting the high altitude travel industry and changing voyager's perspective about Earth. Voyagers will be able to experience the paradigm shifting view of the curvature of Earth set against the blackness of space.

Garan continued, "Ever since my first journey to space, I've felt a call to action to help spread a unique perspective of our home, this place we call Earth."

Garan's extensive career includes time as an F-16 instructor pilot at the United States Air Force Fighter Weapons School (U.S. Air Force's Top Gun School) and years serving as an experimental test pilot. Garan was selected as a pilot by NASA in July 2000. During his NASA career, Garan flew on both the U.S. Space Shuttle under the leadership of World View Director of Flight Operations, Mark Kelly, and with the Russians aboard the Soyuz spacecraft.

See here for discussion of World View Enterprise's high-altitude balloon flights.

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