World View Sets Parafoil Record in Test Flight

World View parafoil at 120,000 feet. (Credit: World View)
World View parafoil at 120,000 feet. (Credit: World View)

TUCSON, AZ, June 24, 2014 (World View PR) – Representing a milestone accomplishment, World View, the commercial balloon spaceflight company, has successfully completed a scaled test flight of its high-altitude balloon spaceflight system breaking the world record for highest parafoil flight in the process. The flight launched from Roswell International Air Center in Roswell, NM on June 18 at 7:45 a.m. MT and lasted more than five hours.

Launching in 2016, World View will have Voyagers floating peacefully to the edge of space for a two-hour sailing-like experience within a luxuriously engineered pressurized capsule transported by a parafoil and high-altitude balloon. Guests will enjoy 360-degree vistas of the world’s most spectacular panorama, marveling at the beauty of the Earth below, watching the sun slowly rise above the curvature of our planet suspended in a vast, black and infinite universe. In addition to offering breathtaking experiences for Voyagers, the capabilities being developed by World View will offer unprecedented and affordable access to the near-space environment for educators, researchers, private companies and government agencies alike.

The test validated the full flight profile of the spaceflight system, lifting a 10 percent scale system to 120,000 feet to the edge of space and back down to 50,000 feet where the transition to a parafoil was successfully executed, breaking the world record. This allowed for further validation of the precision guided landing system of the space vehicle.

The flight tested several essential components for consumer flights and captured breathtaking imagery of the view that will be afforded to Voyagers in 2016.

he test flight focused on four main areas:

  • Launch & Ground Operations. After months of development and planning, the crew set out to validate the pre-, during and post-flight ground systems, protocols and operations (including the method that will be used to launch the actual space capsule) that set the foundation for full-scale consumer flights.
  • Redundant Landing System. The flight validated the deployment process of a backup safety parafoil (which is stowed in the top of the vehicle), successfully validating one of the redundant systems of the spaceflight.
  • Parafoil Aerodynamics. Setting the record for the highest parafoil flight ever conducted, the vehicle rose to an altitude of approximately 120,000 feet and back down to 50,000 feet where a parafoil was deployed to capture data characterizing the aerodynamic behavior of a parafoil flying from the stratosphere. Parafoils routinely fly around 30,000 feet but have never been flown at the altitudes achieved by this World View test flight.
  • Precision Guided Landing. The guidance system that enables the vehicle to make a precision landing and safely return the vehicle to Earth was also tested and performed as expected. The system was previously tested at lower altitudes at Yuma Proving Ground.

“We couldn’t be any more excited about the results from this test flight,” said Jane Poynter, CEO of World View. “It represents a foundational achievement that moves us one step closer to offering a life-changing experience to our Voyagers.”

World View has a number of strategic partners in this historic endeavor. Paragon Space Development Corporation® has decades of experience developing life support and space-related technologies. Paragon is leading the design and development of the World View space capsule. United Parachute Technologies, Performance Designs and MMIST, all leaders in pioneering parachute technology, are providing expertise and support for the development of the flight system’s airborne guidance unit and innovative parafoil. Mark Procos, GM of United Parachute Technologies, commented, “We’re thrilled to be working with World View and Paragon to contribute to such an exciting initiative. Alongside MMIST and Performance Designs, we make a great team that brings decades of parachuting experience to the project.”

This test flight represents the maiden voyage of World View’s Tycho vehicle, a reusable commercial craft that enables research opportunities in fields including communications, surveillance, remote sensing, first response and micro-sat payload delivery. Available for commercialization opportunities today, Tycho will provide low-cost access to the near-space environment for researchers, private companies and government agencies alike.

The Tycho flight was also certified as an Explorer’s Club Flag Mission – carrying the historical Explorer’s Club Flag along with a World View flag signed by members of the Explorers Club.

About World View

Offering a gentle, comfortable, and life-changing travel experience to the edge of space for private citizens; and affordable access to a range of near-space commercialization opportunities for researchers, private companies and government agencies, World View is pioneering a new era of discovery at the edge of space. Available today for unmanned commercial opportunities with an altitude threshold of 130,000 feet, and currently taking reservations for manned flights and private tours, World View is creating unprecedented access to the near-space environment. Watch the World View experience here. For more information, visit http://www.worldviewexperience.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for real-time updates.

  • Hemingway

    If you want to go into space, forget Virgin Galactic and its continuous procrastination and problems. Take a fabulous balloon ride. Maybe World View Enterprises can establish its main base at Spaceport America not Roswell.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2667114/Forget-Virgin-Galactic-balloons-edge-space-THIRD-price-Firm-completes-test-flight-ahead-2016-launch.html

  • Mike Dozier

    Felix rode in the balloon manned up to 128,000 feet…..then jumped succesfully skydiving back to terra firma. Not sure about this companies claim of “new record”

  • Hug Doug

    New record for highest flight of a parafoil

  • therealdmt

    Wow, you are REALLY up there at 120,000 ft (22 miles). Looks like space to me.

    Considering the hours-long cruise and the much lower expense, I can’t see that a Virgin Galactic ticket would be preferable for most. You miss out on the zero-G experience and the official “astronaut wings” certification for getting up over 50 miles, and an even higher perspective, but the short duration of a suborbital flight a la Lynx or VG takes a lot away from it in my view.

    I would like the ability to sit up front with the Lynx though, that would be awesome. And floating around in the cabin after the high G launch would be cool with Spaceship Two too.

    I dunno. You hear “balloon” and you think “That’s not space” — after all, a balloon needs air to be lighter than, and there’s no air in space and…

    And seeing is believing. Looks pretty damn space-y to me.