Introducing a Space Capsule to Float People Into Space

This Japanese startup plans to open up space tourism for everyone.

Mar 21, 2023


Space, Travel
Introducing a Space Capsule to Float People Into Space | This Japanese startup plans to open up space tourism for everyone.

Space tourism has arrived! Companies like SpaceX is already taking paying customers into space and Virgin Galactic is booking passengers for its first commercial flight for the spring of 2023. But spaceship travel is available for an elite group of people. Now, a Japanese startup plans on opening space up to ordinary people.

The company, Iwaya Giken –  based in Sapporo in  Northern Japan –  is planning on launching space-viewing balloons that will make space tourism available to people who are not wealthy or have the skills needed to fly a rocket, reported AP News.

“It’s safe, economical, and gentle for people,” Keisuke Iwaya, the CEO of the company, told reporters at a press conference in Tokyo on February 21, 2023. . “The idea is to make space tourism for everyone.” He added that he wants to "democratize space.”

While the balloons do not actually cross the threshold into outer space, the capsule will fly higher than jet planes, into the stratosphere, and will give passengers an unobstructed view of the cosmos.

The space equalizer
The company developed an airtight cabin that can fit two people – a pilot and passenger – and a balloon that is capable of rising to an altitude of 25 kilometers (15 miles), according to Fast Company. It took 12 years to develop.

Unlike rockets and hot air balloons, the reusable balloons will be lifted by helium. It will take two-hours to rise and will stay there for an hour before beginning its descent. The capsule itself is 1,5 meters (4.9) feet in diameter and has several windows that will allow passengers to view the earth below or the cosmos above.

Current plans

Iwaya Giken teamed up with the Japanese travel agency JTB Corp to support the sales when the space capsule is ready to operate commercially, according to a blog on CN Traveler .

Applications are now being accepted until the end of August, 2023. The first five passengers will be announced in October. At this point, the price is out-of-reach at 24 million yen (€167,000 which is still a bargain compared to space rockets) but will be reduced to the tens of thousands of euros, reported AP News.

The first flights will depart a week apart, weather permitting. While most future space travelers may dream about blasting into space in a rocket, floating into the stratosphere in a balloon capsule is a kinder and gentler way to travel. Bon voyage!

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.