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The next frontier in tourism: space balloons?

Plans to create space balloons that cruise the Earth’s stratosphere have gained popularity in recent years – and one company is already accepting reservations

Beril Naz Hassan
Written by
Beril Naz Hassan

We’re living in an age where sticking to travelling on our own planet is becoming kinda... boring. From the European Space Agency’s exploration of Jupiter’s Icy Moons and Nasa and SpaceX’s mission to visit Mars, it feels like leisurely space travel might actually be within grasp for the first time in history. 

Zephalto definitely thinks so. The French space company is planning to send travellers off into the stratosphere on space balloons by 2025. Flying 15 miles above Earth, the six-hour rides will cost about $132,000 (£106,000) per person and be accompanied by Michelin-starred food and wine. The presale link for the mindblowing offer has already gone live on the Zephalto website. 

The name of the company is a nod to this upcoming project. Zephalto derives from Zephyr, the personification of the west wind in Greek mythology, and Alto, which means ‘to raise’ or ‘to lift’ in Latin. 

Talking about their plans, the founder of Zephalto, Vincent Farret d'Asties told Bloomberg: ‘I am thrilled to have built the bridge between my dream of space travel and reality. Those who share my desire to travel in harmony with the elements and the wind can finally do so onboard Céleste.

He added: ‘After years of working on the approach, design and technical solutions, the concept is now palpable and will offer an extraordinarily immersive experience that will stage our Earth and Space to the most affluent of travellers.’

But, they are not the only space company to use balloons to take tourists up towards the heavens. World View is planning to float 30,000 people to the edge of the Earth's atmosphere using zero-pressure stratospheric balloons running on helium. The price of a ticket is a lot cheaper too, coming in at $50,000 (£38,000) per person. They are currently accepting deposits for those who want to reserve a flight from one of the seven locations across the globe they have selected. 

Similarly, the American start-up Space Perspective had previously revealed that it hopes to take tourists on a cruise around the stratosphere with its Neptune spaceship in 2024. The hot-air-balloon-like pod would feature floor-to-ceiling windows. Back in 2020, the company had said that a trip is likely to cost less than half the ticket price on a Virgin Galactic flight, but that would still make it around $125,000 (£100,000) per head.

Did you hear that passports might be replaced by human heartbeats in the future?

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