ORLANDO, Florida: Space Perspective, which plans to bring tourists to space inside a capsule tethered to a balloon, successfully flew its giant stratospheric balloon 20 miles over the Earth on Friday.
The balloon lifted off near Kennedy Space Center and splashed down 6 hours and 39 minutes later in the Gulf of Mexico, the company reported.
The balloon was successfully recovered.
Company co-founder Jane Poynter said in an interview before the test that Space Perspective plans to launch its first crewed flight in 2023, followed by its first flight carrying tourists in 2024.
“These test flights are designed to make sure that the particular geometry that we are using, the shape of the capsule, will fly as we plan it to and splash down as planned, so there’s nothing to take us by surprise later,” Poynter said.
Space Perspective’s service would bring tourists to the edge of space. However, the plan to rise to 20 miles is far less than the 62 miles high designated as entering space.