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Japanese Company To Launch First Space Tourism Balloon This Year

Japanese company Iwaya Giken has unveiled its balloon cabin and announced plans to begin flying mission into the stratosphere by the end of year, with its first passengers being announced in October.

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Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Wed Feb 22 2023Written by Zac Aubert

In a breakthrough development in space tourism, Japanese company, Iwaya Giken has unveiled its balloon cabin and announced plans to begin flying crewed missions into the stratosphere by the end of year.

Iwaya Giken began work in 2012 with the goal of providing people the opportunity to experience the beauty of space without requiring them to go through rigorous training or have an astronaut's physique. While the balloon won't go beyond the middle of the stratosphere, passengers will have an unobstructed view of outer space and the curvature of the Earth.

“The idea is to make space tourism for everyone.”

-Keisuke Iwaya, Iwaya Giken CEO

The balloon technology is designed to be safe, economical, and environmentally friendly. The cabin is designed to be airtight, with air conditioning and a pressurization system to ensure the passengers' comfort and safety during the flight.

Keisuke Iwaya, left, CEO of Iwaya Giken, & Takayuki Hanasaka, JTB Senior Managing Executive Officer, unveiling two-seater cabin and a balloon on Feb. 21, 2023 | Credit: Associated Press

The Capsule

The drum-shaped plastic cabin is 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) in diameter and has several large windows to allow a view of space above or the Earth below.

The Flight

The balloon will take off from a balloon port in Hokkaido, carrying 1 pilot and 1 passenger into the Stratosphere. The balloon will rise for two hours to a height of 25 kilometers (15 miles) and stay there for one hour before a one-hour controlled descent.

The frequency of the flights will be determined by the weather, with an estimated interval of approximately a week between each flight.

The Cost

Iwaya Giken has partnered with major Japanese travel agency JTB Corp for to begin offering commercial trips when the company is ready. Initially, a flight will cost approx $180,000 USD (24 million yen), but the company aims to eventually bring the cost of a flight down to just several million yen (tens of thousands of dollars).

Applications Now Open

Applications to be one of the first five passengers is now open as the Open Universe Project. Applications will remain open until the end of August with the company announcing the first passengers in October. The first flight is expected to occur between November 20th and December 3rd based on application detailsLearn More