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Wheee!: Balloon Rides To The Edge Of Space

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Ever wanted to take a helium balloon to the face and talk funny ride to the edge of space? Me neither. Like I told my mechanic: add rockets or GTFO.

"Bloon" is a six-person pod designed by Spanish company zero2infinity that will rise to the edge of the atmosphere, powered by a helium balloon. The cabin holds four passengers and two pilots for the three-hour flight, 36km above the earth's surface. The flights will launch at night, so passengers can watch the sun rise over the curvature of the earth. While admiring the world from near space, in-flight information about the altitude and range of view will be displayed directly on the pod's windows. To return to earth, the helium is vented slowly, then the balloon or sail separates from the pod, deploying a parafoil. The pod pops its airbags and is guided in for a landing. Bloon uses zero propellants, so there are no emissions or noise pollution.

A trip will set you back ~$168K, making it far more temping to just tie a bunch of helium balloons to a lawn chair and do it yourself. Just don't forget to wear a fishbowl for a helmet -- there's a lot less oxygen up there. Also: fast food drive-ins, so be sure to eat before take off.

Space travel powered by helium balloon [bbcnews]

Thanks to Irina, who tried catapulting herself into space but didn't even make it past the blogosphere. That...is not very far.

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