Japanese Startup Reveals Cheaper Commercial Space Viewing Balloon Flights

A Japanese startup has announced they will launch commercial space viewing balloon flights with the intention of making them financially more available.

Iwaya Giken, the company running the space voyages, has been working on the project since 2012 and says it has developed an airtight two-seat cabin and a helium balloon that can rise up to an altitude of 25 kilometers (15 miles), where the curve of the Earth can be viewed. The total four-hour trip will ascend for two hours, stay at 25 kilometers for one hour, and then descend for an hour.

Initially, the flight would cost about 24 million yen ($180,000), but the company aims to eventually bring the price down to several million yen (tens of thousands of dollars).

SpaceX recently launched three civilians and an astronaut escort to the International Space Station in April for $55 million each. This was the company’s first private charter flight after two years of carrying astronauts there for NASA.

Prominent DJ and producer, Steve Aoki, is set to fly on one of these international space expeditions later this year.

But Company CEO Keisuke Iwaya wants to make space travel more democratic and available, saying, “It’s safe, economical and gentle for people. The idea is to make space tourism for everyone.”

Check out the video below to see how the mechanism works on a small scale and what the view would look like for those traveling with Iwaya Giken:

Written by
Danielle Levy

Danielle Levy is currently enrolled in University of San Diego’s MBA program with a concentration in Corporate Social Responsibility. She is the cohort representative, VP of Student Organizations for the Graduate Student Business Association, and Director of Operations for Net Impact. Danielle has several years of experience in the sustainability education world and has held various positions in human resources and intern management. She also worked at a local coffee shop for about 2 years. Danielle is passionate about the ties between sustainability and social impact. She spent 8 years in colorguard, including 3 international competitive seasons.

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