/ Modified oct 23, 2013 10:39 a.m.

NPR: Company Plans to Launch Balloon Ride to Stratosphere

World View, a new space tourism company in Tucson, would offer option to passengers as early as 2015; price about $75K.

Story by Scott Neuman

If you can't afford a trip into orbit as a space tourist aboard a cramped Russian Soyuz capsule (about $35 million) or a reservation on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipOne (price tag: $250,000), World View Enterprises just might have the ticket: a leisurely high-altitude balloon ride for a less-than-stratospheric $75,000.

Tucson-based World View on Tuesday unveiled the planned balloon rides, which the company says will reach altitudes of about 100,000 feet — high enough to see the blackness of space and the curvature of the Earth.

On its website, World View boasts "majestic views of our planet, slowly expanding below ... certain to captivate you, as you ascend to the edge of space."

"Seeing the Earth hanging in the ink-black void of space will help people realize our connection to our home planet and to the universe around us," World View CEO Jane Poynter said in a statement on Tuesday. "It is also our goal to open up a whole new realm for exercising human curiosity, scientific research and education."

But going aloft 19 miles isn't for the faint of heart. A look at the company's promotional animation (above) shows the gentle ascent of the gondola/capsule and then its separation and return via para-glider.

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