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Space Tourism: Japanese Startup plans for Balloon Flight Space Viewing Tours

A Japanese startup wants ordinary people to experience space tour, plans for balloon flight rides to the Space, that requires no intense training or any skills for the space tourism.

With enhancements in the aviation and space technology, the things which were considered ridiculous and crazy before, are now becoming real and possible. Few astounding space-exploration, including the pictures of black hole, James Webb Space Telescope, solar-farm in space, and space-tourism have set the examples for that.

Several private companies had initiated space tourism for proffering a breath-taking view to non-astronauts, including this Japan-based startup, where it planned to make the space tours more reachable to the people than its peers.

Space Tour & Limitation

Dennis Tito, an American millionaire was the first space tourist who travelled into space way back in 2001 by paying “millions” of dollars to the Russian Space Agency. Further in the second decade of 21st century, companies like Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin were few of the first space-travel planners in the world.

However, space-tours bets heavy on price. For instance, Blue Origin sold each ticket for the ride to suborbital space at a whopping $1.25 million (₹10.2 Crores). And it’s even higher with SpaceX, where it took three rich businessmen and their astronaut escort to the ISS for $55 million each, making it unrealistic for normal non-millionaire people.

Balloon Flight to Space

“Iwaya Giken”, the startup based in Sapporo in Northern Japan, has unveiled plans for an economical space tour carrying passengers in an airtight two-seat cabin balloon capable of rising up to the middle of the stratosphere, where the curve of the Earth can clearly be viewed.

The balloon not exactly takes you to space, but to an altitude of 50km (approximately) from earth surface, which is nearly four times the distance of commercial airplanes’ maximum flight altitude (13km). However, at heavy payloads, it can reach up to 20km. The viewpoint is higher than a jet plane and will have an unobstructed view of outer space. ISS is 420 km from earth, for comparison.

Unlike rockets or a hot air balloon, Iwaya Giken’s sphere-shaped vessel will be lifted by helium gas which can be largely reused, and flights will safely stay above Japanese territory or airspace, as the startup is Japan-based.

This is how the view would be from the balloon space tour. (Picture by Iwaya Giken)

The travel involves a passenger along with a pilot seated on the two-seater gas balloon that will rise to an altitude of 25 kilometers (15 miles), for two hours and let you stay there on space for witnessing the beautiful view for an hour and another hour for the return. The cabin is 1.5 meters in diameter and is almost transparent on the sides and top for a full view of space above and the earth below, the company said. Iwaya had been working for this economical space travel since 2012.

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Cost for Space tour

Teaming up with major Japanese travel agency JTB Corp., the commercial trip to space outlook will cost about 24 million yen ($180,000 / ₹1.47 Crore). However, the company’s CEO Keisuke Iwaya said that he aims to eventually lower the price, bringing it down to several million yen (tens of thousands of dollars).

The company had already opened applications for the tour and will continue through the end of August 2023. The first five selected passengers will be announced in October, and flights will be approximately a week apart, depending on the weather, company officials added.

What price would you fix for a reasonable Space Tour? Drop your comments…

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