World View’s plan is to fly a large pressurized gondola beneath a high-tech balloon for a flight lasting around four hours–taking 90 minutes to soar to an altitude of 19 miles, or around 100,000 feet. For comparison, typical airliners fly at about 35,000 feet. The gondola will be large enough for eight passengers to walk around, and will be fitted with luxuries like a bar and giant cupola-like windows that offer a great view. Test flights are due to begin this year and commercial flights will hopefully start in 2016. This technology has been around for a while, and for his Red Bull skydive effort in 2012, Felix Baumgartner jumped from a gondola beneath a similar (but smaller) balloon at about 24 miles up.
This isn’t a flight to space (though if you’re into that, check out Virgin Galactic), but it’s high enough to see the curve of the Earth, the beautiful light shining sideways through the atmosphere, and the darkness of space above.KE