A high-tech rocket isn't the only way off the planet. The hot air balloon company World View specializes in trips to the stratosphere, and their new experience brings guests close to space for a (relatively) reasonable price.
As Travel + Leisure reports, World View is offering edge-of-space flights for $50,000 per person. For comparison, a ticket to ride a Virgin Galactic rocket starts at $450,000. The gentler and more affordable passage through the atmosphere is made possible by World View's hot air balloon technology. Their zero-pressure stratospheric balloon is capable of lifting a pressurized space capsule carrying eight passengers 100,000 feet off the ground.
The balloon is slower than a rocket, with rides taking six to 12 hours to complete, but that might be a selling point for some clients. Takeoff and landing are on par with a commercial flight, and the experience is safe for people of varying physical abilities. The balloon hovers above the Earth for several hours, ensuring that guests get their money's worth.
World View's commercial excursions aren't yet open to the public, but you can put down a $500 deposit today to reserve your seat. Edge-of-space flights are expected to take off from World View spaceports around the globe starting in early 2024, with the non-profit Space for Humanity booked for the inaugural trip.
For adventurers with more money to spend, the world of space travel is much more open. In 2019, the International Space Station announced it would start accepting visitors, but round-trip tickets to the satellite were estimated to cost $58 million.
[h/t Travel + Leisure]