A Japanese startup offers everyone to fly into space, but tickets are not cheap - ForumDaily
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Japanese startup invites everyone to fly into space, but tickets are not cheap

Flying into space, thanks to a Japanese startup, can become ubiquitous entertainment even if you are not a millionaire or billionaire. Read more about this publication Business Insider.

Photo: IStock

Iwaya Giken, a Sapporo-based space startup, this week unveiled its plans to launch a helium balloon to observe space.

Keisuke Iwaya, CEO of Iwaya Giken, said he has "loved science and space" since childhood and was inspired by Back to the Future's Dr. Emmett Brown.

As an engineering student, Iwaya designed and successfully launched balloons with cameras attached to them, photographing the earth from 18 miles (29 km) high. Since then, he has conducted at least 80 such launches and received a license for space photography for business.

Now Iwaya wants to take space exploration to the next level. He said his goal is to make commercial space travel, which costs millions of dollars, more accessible. Japanese space programs are lagging behind American ones such as SpaceX and Blue Origin.

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The spacecraft, in development since 2012, includes a pressurized cabin 4,9 feet (1,5 m) wide with two seats, one for the pilot and one for the passenger. It is lifted by a helium-powered balloon, which the company says can take to the skies up to 15 miles (24 km), which is the middle of the stratosphere.

At this altitude (higher than a jet plane can fly), passengers will be able to see the curve of the earth, and nothing will block their view.

The cabin has several large windows through which passengers can observe space from above and the earth from below. Constructed from plastic, the cabin will be resistant to changes in temperature and air pressure.

Taking off from the airport in Hokkaido, the spacecraft will ascend for two hours, hover over the ground for another hour, and complete its flight with an hour-long descent.

The helium used to lift the spacecraft will be reusable, the company said. The spacecraft can only fly over Earth and Japanese airspace.

As part of his plan to "democratize space," Iwaya said passengers don't need billions in bank accounts to fly. According to him, extensive training and knowledge of technical languages ​​is also not required.

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“It’s safe, economical and gentle on people,” Iwaya said. “The idea is to make space tourism accessible to everyone.”

When the spacecraft launches later this year, the flight will cost about $180, though that will eventually drop to tens of thousands of dollars, according to Iway.

Interested passengers have until the end of August to apply to fly on the spacecraft. The first five passengers will be announced in October, with each flight a week apart, weather permitting.

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