[July 12, 2014](Reuters) - An Arizona start-up
company says it has successfully completed its first small-scale test
flight of a stratospheric balloon and capsule being developed to show
tourists a space-like view of the Earth from 19 miles (30 km) above
Privately owned World View, an offshoot of Paragon Space
Development Corp, aims to start taking passengers to "the edge of
space" in the Voyager vehicle by 2016, according a company
"We couldn't be any more excited about the results from this test
flight," said Jane Poynter, chief executive officer of World View.
"It represents a foundational achievement that moves us one step
closer to offering a life-changing experience to our Voyagers."
The company was able to get its first demonstration vehicle, a scale
vehicle known as the Tycho, about one-tenth the planned size of the
Voyager, off the ground for more than five hours during its maiden
voyage June 18, the statement said.
The craft launched from the Roswell International Air Center in
Roswell, New Mexico, at 7:45 a.m. ( and rose 120,000 feet, or more
than 22 miles (35 km), into the sky, the statement said.
The company claims the flight broke the world record for the highest
parafoil flight when it used its parafoil, an inflatable wing-shaped
parachute, at about 50,000 feet (15 km) during the craft's landing.
The test flight focused on four components of the commercial
spaceflight system: launch and ground operations, a redundant
landing system, parafoil aerodynamics and precision guided landing.
The Voyager vehicle is still being developed and must adhere to the
same Federal Aviation Administration safety requirements as a manned
spacecraft orbiting Earth.
It will be propelled by a 40 million cubic-foot (1.1 million
cubic-meter) helium balloon and a steerable parafoil.
At $75,000 per ticket, the craft is expected initially to carry six
passengers and two pilots on what the company describes as a
peaceful, sailing-like experience lasting about two hours and
offering views of the Earth's curvature against space. The Voyager
will go twice as high as commercial jets.
The company is making its Tycho vehicle available immediately for
commercial research use by private companies, educational
institutions and government entities.