People looking to fly in balloons to the edge of space will get to do so from the city of Tucson, Arizona, as Tucson News Now reported Tuesday.
The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday “to approve an incentives agreement with World View, a commercial balloon spaceflight company, for it to build its world headquarters and first launchpad south of Tucson International Airport in the Sonoran Corridor.”
The Corridor, a 50-square-mile area, is to serve as the eventual location of “Spaceport Tucson,” where World View plans to provide the unique experience of balloon rides that travel to an altitude of 100,000 feet. Riding in a special capsule (the “Voyager”), the balloon expands to the approximate size of a football arena and can carry the eight-man capsule (six passengers and two crew members) for about two hours before returning to Earth—a trip with a $75,000 price tag. Heavy testing is scheduled to roll into 2017, with the actual space tourism starting up at the end of the same year.
Pima County is reporting the project is to employ “more than 400 employees in the next five years, with average annual salaries greater than $55,000. Phoenix-based Applied Economics Inc. conducted an economic impact study of World View’s proposed operation and the study estimates the company will have a $3.5 billion impact on the local economy over the next 20 years.”