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Satnews Daily
June 26th, 2014

World View—Balloon Parafoil Flight Breaks World Record, + Spatial Journeys Just Ahead (Space Tourism)

[SatNews] Representing a milestone accomplishment, World View, the commercial balloon spaceflight company, has successfully completed a scaled test flight of its high-altitude balloon spaceflight system breaking the world record for highest parafoil flight in the process.

The flight launched from Roswell International Air Center in Roswell, New Mexio, on June 18thn at 7:45 a.m. MT and lasted more than five hours.   

The World View parafoil flying at an altitude of 50,000 ft., breaking world record for highest parafoil flight.

Photo credit—World View.

Launching in 2016, World View will have Voyagers floating peacefully to the edge of space for a two-hour, sailing-like experience within a luxuriously engineered pressurized capsule transported by a parafoil and high-altitude balloon. Guests will enjoy 360-degree vistas of the world’s most spectacular panorama, marveling at the beauty of the Earth below, watching the sun slowly rise above the curvature of our planet suspended in a vast, black and infinite universe. In addition to offering breathtaking experiences for Voyagers, the capabilities being developed by World View will offer unprecedented and affordable access to the near-space environment for educators, researchers, private companies and government agencies alike.
The test validated the full flight profile of the spaceflight system, lifting a 10 percent scale system to 120,000 feet to the edge of space and back down to 50,000 feet, where the transition to a parafoil was successfully executed, breaking the world record. This allowed for further validation of the precision guided landing system of the space vehicle. The flight tested several essential components for consumer flights and captured breathtaking imagery of the view that will be afforded to Voyagers in 2016.
The test flight focused on four main areas:

  • Launch & Ground Operations. After months of development and planning, the crew set out to validate the pre-, during and post-flight ground systems, protocols and operations (including the method that will be used to launch the actual space capsule) that set the foundation for full-scale consumer flights.
  • Redundant Landing System. The flight validated the deployment process of a backup safety parafoil (which is stowed in the top of the vehicle), successfully validating one of the redundant systems of the spaceflight.
  • Parafoil Aerodynamics. Setting the record for the highest parafoil flight ever conducted, the vehicle rose to an altitude of approximately 120,000 feet and back down to 50,000 feet where a parafoil was deployed to capture data characterizing the aerodynamic behavior of a parafoil flying from the stratosphere. Parafoils routinely fly around 30,000 feet but have never been flown at the altitudes achieved by this World View test flight.
  • Precision Guided Landing. The guidance system that enables the vehicle to make a precision landing and safely return the vehicle to Earth was also tested and performed as expected. The system was previously tested at lower altitudes at Yuma Proving Ground.

“We couldn’t be any more excited about the results from this test flight,” said Jane Poynter, CEO of World View. “It represents a foundational achievement that moves us one step closer to offering a life-changing experience to our Voyagers.”
World View has a number of strategic partners in this historic endeavor. Paragon Space Development Corporation® has decades of experience developing life support and space-related technologies. Paragon is leading the design and development of the World View space capsule. United Parachute Technologies, Performance Designs and MMIST, all leaders in pioneering parachute technology, are providing expertise and support for the development of the flight system’s airborne guidance unit and innovative parafoil.

This test flight represents the maiden voyage of World View’s Tycho vehicle, a reusable commercial craft that enables research opportunities in fields including communications, surveillance, remote sensing, first response and micro-sat payload delivery. Available for commercialization opportunities today, Tycho will provide low-cost access to the near-space environment for researchers, private companies and government agencies alike. The Tycho flight was also certified as an Explorer’s Club Flag Mission, carrying the historical Explorer’s Club Flag along with a World View flag signed by members of the Explorers Club.

To view the test flight video story, head over to http://bit.ly/TestFlightVNR