Opinion: The FAA needs to know where space starts and where balloons end

by | Oct 25, 2013 | Commercial human spaceflight, NASA, Space tourism | 0 comments

While we at the Flightglobal Hyperbola spaceflight blog do sometomes go “off piste”  as we write about other subjects with only loose links to spaceflight, we do however like to draw a line to define exactlly where space (and space stories) start and ends   We note this because a new firm is marketing a balloon trip to “the edge of space” with rides to altitides of circa 30km costing $75,000.  The balloon flights, marketed by World View Enterprises, http://www.worldviewexperience.com/are to be made in a capsule which has recently been defined for legal reasons as a “Commercial Space System” by the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).   

By most modern definitions, space (and spaceflight) starts at 100km altitude and that this is the height that US miltary officers have to achieve to get their “astronaut wings” badge  (in the past this limit was set at the lower limit of 80km).   As such the FAA really needs to note the difference between what is spaceship and and what is a balloon – just in case any inflatable space structures get given a balloon misnomer – and just in case any of World View Enterprise passengers dares to call themselves an astronaut.

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