The Bar at the Top of the World
by John Delach
World View is a new “space tourism company,” already part of group called Inspiration Mars that proposes launching two people into space in 2018 to enjoy a flyby of that Red Planet. But World View’s primary ambition is considerably closer to home. They propose to lift up to six people at a time plus a crew of two 18.5 miles above the earth in a capsule tethered to a large balloon. Here’s how the New York Times described the concept:
“This is a very gentle flight that will last for hours aloft,” said Jane Poynter, World View’s chief executive. She said the cabin would be about the size of that of a private jet, and would have a “superbly comfortable, luxurious interior where you can get up and stand upright and move around and go back to the bar and get a drink.”
The entire experience will last about six hours including a two-hour ascent beneath the balloon, two additional hours drifting along in the heavens and a two-hour descent after jettisoning the balloon as the capsule glides back to Mother Earth under an inflated parasail.
The article noted that 18.5 miles is technically not space as real space starts at the 62-mile altitude. So the participants will not be actual astronauts. World View doesn’t believe this will be a turn-off, but, at $75,000 a pop, it doesn’t seem that a certificate signed by the pilot saying:
This is to certify that Mr/Ms___________ ascended to ________miles, or________feet above the planet Earth on ___ of _________, 20__
will be of much value especially once a couple of hundred people make the journey and start displaying like certificates.
Also, five or six hours is a long time to peer out a tiny window at basically the same scenery watching as it shrinks in size while the surrounding sky becomes darker and darker. Sounds a bit boring, even after a drink or two.
Now, please, do not think that I am ridiculing Ms. Poynter or her gang at World View. Not at all; this is a terrific concept, it’s just that their market focus is just a bit off. They need creativity; less Cape Kennedy and more Las Vegas, less NASA and more Carnival Cruises, less Neil Armstrong and more Steve Wynn. Move the entire operation out to the Mexican desert and re-name it: The Sky High Vegas Party Club.
And what a club. “You may belong to the ‘Mile High Club’ but how about the ‘20 Mile High Club?” (Not to worry, a little exaggeration goes a long way!) Not just booze, but gambling and girls, Girls and GIRLS. Now doesn’t that make $75,000 a throw considerably more reasonable and if the gambling takes off (pun intended) the price can come down to an economical $49,999.
I picture theme rides. True this will be mainly marketed to guys in view of Vegas being a haven for bachelor parties and conventions but also cater to couples, ladies only and the entire L.G. B. TG.TS. market.
Why the MexicanDesert? To escape the long reach of Uncle Sam. It seems that even 18- miles up is not beyond the jurisdiction of the F.A.A. and you know what that means, the T.S.A. and all of their rules, prohibitions, pat downs and body searches. Yuck!
So, it’s adios Estados Unidos and viva Mexico. At first participants will be flown from Vegas to the base in the Mexican desert, but as more and more people see the base, there will be a great opportunity to build a new resort near the launch site. And it won’t take long to grow in popularity as theses crazy kids come to realize how “joyful” the resort can be:
Up, up and away in my beautiful, my beautiful balloon…