Traveling is wonderful, but an eight-hour flight often means numb legs, a sore back, and terrible snacks. Frugal airlines have ruined the flying experience. But what if you took an eight-hour flight into space?
This is the promise of worldview, a startup that plans to lift you 100,000 feet above the ground in a helium balloon on flights departing from the Grand Canyon starting in 2024. The 5-foot-wide window will put the view of any tiny window seat to shame. The capsule and its interior are designed by PriestmanGoode, a British design firm known for their work on airline interiors Airbus, Qatar Airways and United Airlines.
World View is the newest entrant in the burgeoning space tourism industry, which also includes Virgin Galactic’s Zero Gravity Flights ($450,000 per seat) Blue Origin Rocket rides (tickets still priceless) and competitors in the space balloon spatial perspective, which is asking $125,000 to elevate a 360-degree viewing room into space. It’s a young market, but you can already see a line of differentiation: some companies are selling a laid-back trip to reach the top of nature, while others promise a high-G nature adventure The right stuff.
Technically, World View never reaches the true altitude of space, but it does go high enough to see the curved edges of the Earth from above and see our world from a different perspective. That was the key design challenge: “What we don’t want to do as designers is spoil that experience for the passenger,” says Daniel Macinnes, design director at PriestmanGoode.
Designing a space capsule to celebrate Earth
While the World View balloon has been in development for nearly a decade, Macinnes and his team have worked for the past six months to transform this flight technology into an unparalleled experience of travel. The images you see here are renderings that do not represent the final design yet.
That feeling starts with the capsule design itself. The cabin features a hexagonal geometry optimized for pressurization – allowing people to fly without a nosebleed. PriestmanGoode has worked with engineers to refine everything that is malleable beyond this basic shape. This includes determining the material and shape of the capsule’s fairing – or the fairing on the outside of the vehicle to give the capsule a unique look and improve aerodynamics.
This also applies to the windows. Passengers are free to move around the cabin during the journey, but the windows are truly the heart of the in-flight passenger experience.
PriestmanGoode’s earlier design experiments featured many small, irregularly shaped windows through the cabin. The design reminded me of sci-fi spacefighters. Designers have since eliminated the smaller windows and placed each pair of seats in front of a single, circular window. Part of the decision to have fewer windows stems from the same issue airlines face with every design decision: weight. Windows are heavy, and every gram of weight in the capsule either slows its ascent or requires the use of more helium (which is expensive and wasteful).
However, as Macinnes explains, the experience focuses on that unique view when passengers are provided with a single, five-foot-wide window.
“We love aviation and light… but this takes it to another level. You look at the window [out of a plane] at 30,000,000 feet and it’s nice, but it’s a really limited view,” says Macinnes, referring to the 9-inch wide window on most airliners. “What we’re trying to do is make sure everyone is just blown away… no one has ever experienced that size of a window on an airplane. Hopefully you’ll be amazed when you look out.”
Part of that dumbing down is balancing the distraction from that window at all times. That means PriestmanGoode cut LCD screens out of the cabin when iterating on its design. (More likely, travelers will just be handed out tablets instead.) According to Macinnes, this also means that upon entering the cabin, a unique lighting arrangement creates a “lively, knock your socks off” feeling as they step on board. However, shortly after boarding, the lighting will go out of the way. “We want to make it dramatic when you walk in, but then just disappear to increase the viewing pleasure when you’re looking out that window,” says Macinnes.
Construction of a cabin of the extra class
As for the rest of the cabin experience, it’s a careful balance of plush amenities and weight limitations – a balance that causes weekly iterations of the designs featured here.
So there will be compromises. The main cabin itself will be fairly minimal, shaving back the veneer to keep the weight down. But the pod will include what Macinnes promises, a decently sized bathroom with hotel-level fixtures and finishes (and yes, a window so you don’t miss the view if you have to leave). PriestmanGoode is also working to perfect the capsule’s seats, which, like airplane seats, need to feel comfortable for a full day, but also need to perform with as few heavy components as possible. This means that nobody knows yet whether the chairs will rotate 360 degrees, provide motorized support or even what materials they will be made of. But as World View envisions you could use the pod not just for a flight, but for team-building workshops or even weddings, they recognize that seating needs to be more flexible than what we’re seeing here.
As for food and beverages, World View will have an onboard concierge to assist in managing these components of the passenger experience. However, weight and space constraints are so significant that World View’s designers are currently working with World View’s chefs to determine exactly what types of food can be served in the capsule, as well as the equipment needed to prepare and consume it to plan. Given the high price of a ticket, World View wants its culinary bar to be closer to a Michelin restaurant’s amuse bouche than a $12 coach-class protein box.
“It really is a spaceship,” says Macinnes. “It has to be as light as possible to reach that kind of height, but we don’t want to sacrifice the luxury that the customer would expect.”
https://www.fastcompany.com/90741304/this-giant-balloon-will-take-you-to-the-edge-of-space-for-just-50000?partner=feedburner&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feedburner+fastcompany&utm_content=feedburner This giant balloon will take you into space for just $50,000