Giving tough competition to Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic on the commercial space tourism front is the new six-person pod designed by the Spanish company Zero2infinity.
Called the Zero2infinity bloon, the design is regarded as the brainchild of Spanish entrepreneur, Jose Lopez-Urdiales, with a holding capacity of four passengers and two pilots.
The space pod can move to the unprecedented height of 36 kilometers to allow people to get a view of the earth's curvature and the vast blackness of the space above. As the flights will be launched at night, visitors will also be able to catch a glimpse of the dawn creeping slowly across the planet.
It's not about the prestige; it's the view from up high that people want to see. It will be an unforgettable experience - people will be able to see stars during the day, and the sun will look completely different. People will enjoy it because being that high reminds them they come from a planet, and are part of something much bigger, the Daily Mail quoted Lopez-Urdiales saying.
While returning to the earth, the helium is vented slowly following which the balloon or sail slowly separates from the pod to deploy a parafoil. The pod pops its airbags and is guided in for a landing. An interesting feature of the bloon is that it uses zero propellants and hence, there is no noise pollution or sound emissions.
The first manned flight of the Zero2infinity bloon is scheduled for 2013. Check out the amazing images of the designed space pod below: