Space

World View completes major flight test of Voyager spacecraft scale replica

World View completes major fli...
The Voyager scale-model craft over Arizona
The Voyager scale-model craft over Arizona
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The test used a 1/10 scale version of the Voyager craft
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The test used a 1/10 scale version of the Voyager craft
The Voyager is carried aloft by a helium balloon
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The Voyager is carried aloft by a helium balloon
Voyager's balloon expands as it ascends
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Voyager's balloon expands as it ascends
The test took the vehicle to an altitude of 100,475 ft (30,624 m)
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The test took the vehicle to an altitude of 100,475 ft (30,624 m)
The test was designed to demonstrate technologies that will be used in the full-scale version
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The test was designed to demonstrate technologies that will be used in the full-scale version
The Voyager scale-model craft over Arizona
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The Voyager scale-model craft over Arizona
The Voyager scale test craft returning to Earth using a parafoil
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The Voyager scale test craft returning to Earth using a parafoil
View gallery - 7 images

Commercial spaceflight company World View came a step closer to carrying tourists to the edge of space with a successful test flight last weekend. At Page, Arizona, a one-tenth scale replica spacecraft was carried by high-altitude ballon to a height of 100,475 ft (30,624 m) to demonstrate the technology that is intended for use in a full-size version slated to begin commercial flights next year.

Developed by World View in collaboration with United Parachute Technologies and precision aerial delivery company MMIST, the Voyager spacecraft is designed to carry six tourists at US$75,000 a head, plus flight crew, on a six-hour journey with one to two hours at a peak altitude of 100,000 ft (30,000 m). This is an altitude of 19 mi (30 km), which is not even close to the 62-mi (100-km) altitude recognized by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) as the official edge of space, but is still plenty high enough to see the curvature of the Earth.

Voyager consists of a helium balloon that expands to about 14 million ft³ (400,000 m³), or the size of a football stadium, when it rises to maximum altitude and fully inflates. Suspended beneath this is a pressurized gondola that's large enough to walk around in and is decked out with amenities like Wi-Fi, bar, and a lavatory. At the end of its flight, the gondola makes its final descent by detaching from the balloon and a parafoil allows the pilot to glide the craft to the recovery area for a precision landing.

The test used a 1/10 scale version of the Voyager craft
The test used a 1/10 scale version of the Voyager craft

According to World View, the recent sub-scale test was intended to test a number of technologies related to high-altitude parafoil flight and full flight operations as a prelude to full-scale tests. Specifically, the flight was to demonstrate the feasibility and practicality of the craft's design in three key areas: launch procedures that will allow the craft to be sent aloft routinely and gently, the ability to transition from balloon to parafoil, and control systems are able to ensure a smooth, accurate landing.

The company says that full scale tests will be conducted in the next few months involving a flight vehicle with the same mass and aerodynamics as the World View Voyager spacecraft.

"While each individual system has been analyzed and extensively tested in previous test flights, this significant milestone allowed us to test and prove all critical flight systems at once," says Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder Taber MacCallum. "Now we’re ready for the next major phase of development – full scale system testing."

The video below shows the test flight.

Source: World View

10% Scale Replica Spacecraft Test Flight

View gallery - 7 images
4 comments
g.fosbery
So what then happens to a football stadium sized balloon that's left drifting round at an altitude of 19kms?
Stephen N Russell
Launch sites for: AZ NV NM West TX, No TX, PR, No Africa, India, Canada, No CA, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, China, Java, Australia.
Kristianna Thomas
At $75,000 a head, it all seems like a lot of hot air; stadium sized volume of wind. When the gondola drops like a rock back to terra firm, what becomes of the lofty remains of the hot (helium) balloon (my beautiful balloon). Is this just adding to the large amount of trash that orbits our planet. Maybe they need sanitation workers to go up and clean up the garbage, litter and trash; at least they would have a trash bag to put all the debris in Enough launches by this over-priced gondola from hell, and there will be enough to clean up the orbiting cosmic debris (so don't you waste your time on me). Maybe they should change the name to Hoover or Dust Devil.
Erg
And you thought party balloons were a frivolous use of Helium.