Move over private jets and super-jumbos, here comes the balloon! That and with all the popularity space travel has garnered, it is going to be a new era of travel as the balloon takes to space! The brainchild of Spanish entrepreneur Jose Lopez-Urdiales, ‘the bloon’ is a state-of-the-art flying device that go up to heights of 22 miles (36 km) – allowing passengers to view the curvature of the earth, watch the dawn creep gradually across the planet, and even glimpse the empty blackness of space directly above. The bloon’s first manned flight has been penciled for 2013 onboard the 129-m diameter craft which will be able to accommodate four passengers and two pilots. Suitably pressurized so that guests are comfortable even at three times higher than the standard cruising altitude of an airplane – it can float above the earth for around three hours, with the journeys up and down lasting an hour each way. An experience this out-of-this-world, does come steep, precisely at an inconsiderable £90,000 ($148,385) per person per trip – though the bloon’s creator is quick to defend the cost. ‘It’s not about the prestige, it’s the view from up high that people want to see,’ Lopez-Urdiales continues. ‘There will be many people who will want to go on the trip.’ Well, we can’t help but agree with Lopez-Urdiales, after all you’ve just gone to space in a balloon! A key requirement for passengers would be, a head for heights, obviously. Once the three-hour celestial cruise is over, the bloon descends via a slowly venting sail – which detaches from the craft once it reaches a certain altitude. The bloon then drops the rest of the way to solid ground by deploying a parachute.
Watch this space as we wait for further details of the first flight– including which country the bloon will take off from – but Spain is seen as a likely candidate due to its reliable weather.