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 WorldViewExperience.com.
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.