I think if they want to attract more people to go for a ride, they would need to reduce the price.
Perhaps this situation they could use a blend of helium and hydrogen? Have the hydrogen be the main lifting gas while have just enough helium to keep it safe? It could reduce the need to use helium.
I think it is really cool. It would be neat to have cameras on both the outside and the inside. Perhaps have a 'flight to space' experience similar to the Soarin ride at Disney Land and Disney World. I think they could make more money that way. It would allow more people to experience it without the high cost.
Agree with the author re the profligate waste of helium- it seems incredibly wasteful of a non renewable resource just to provide a four-hour jolly for the privileged few.
Chris White
Agree on the waste of heilium. There is a lot less than we realize. The current price is not reflective of the supply or demand as the U.S. Congress passed a law in the early 2000's that our strategic supply of helium needs to be drained by x date. As a result, the U.S. has priced it at such a rate that it will meet this demand, ignoring the fact that the market price sans this flood is actually significantly higher.
Ammonia gas is lighter-than-air and has the added benefit of being compressed to a liquid which would reduce lift and create ballast thus allowing better altitude control. Pros: cost, re-usable, better altitude control, larger molecule than He (balloon wall material choices) Cons: irritant to humans, toxic, condensation issues of moisture dripping on outside of balloon could react with leak forming ammonium hydroxide, which could drip onto gondola. Definitely a consideration for unmanned cell phone and communications dirigibles.
I would think that it would be cheaper especially in the long run to include a pump and storage for the helium rather than throw away a few hundred thousand cubic meters of it every "launch". It wouldn't have to be an enormous pump as the decent doesn't need to be fast.
William Bangs
Looks cool, but not $70,000 worth of cool. They're going to have to work on that part of it.
Don Duncan
"...the...F.A.A. has determined..." ?? Can't we do anything without govt.? This is not an "aircraft". It's a "floatcraft". It does not fly or glide. It goes up and then comes down. "Land of the free" or land of the controlled?
The He problem is easily fixed: use H2.
That's quite a pricey ticket just to go a little more than twice as high as airliners already go on a daily basis.
If they're really smart, they will take very hi-res panoramic shots on their first trip up, drop them on a server, create a small app for panning about... Oculus Rift style. The Oculus Rift is looking like it will be a very successful product, and high-scale, hi-res panoramas will be popular items for such head-tracking displays. I imagine that few people would be willing to pay $75K for the real deal, but many hundreds of thousands of people would be willing to pay a few tens of dollar for an amazing and dramatic virtual view of the Earth that, other than lack of weightlessness, would look like the real deal.
David Clarke
As kalqlate suggests, a hi-res, panoramic video could be made, and shown on HD screens from the outside of a mock up capsule. As there is little or no acceleration felt going up in a balloon, the assimilated experience would feel real. The capsule could in reality be towed up a tower, and when the "balloon" is released, the capsule could be dropped in freefall, to create a feeling of weightlessness, if only for a few seconds. This could easily be a fairground ride of the near future. One thing struck me, watching the video. The para-sail would not stay in its inflated form as it needs to be moving forward into the wind. If there was a wind the balloon would be moving along with it.