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This space tourism company wants to take people to the stratosphere with a helium balloon for $150k

This space tourism company wants to take people to the stratosphere with a helium balloon for $150k

Halo Space was founded in 2021 with the goal of improving access to space tourism.

It would still be out of reach for most people, at around $150,000 a ticket, but by using helium balloons instead of jets or rockets, it’s cheaper and more sustainable than the likes of Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic.

CEO Carlos Mira believes his company can take 10,000 people to the stratosphere within the next six years. He said Halo will start commercial flights in 2026.

Last Wednesday, the firm unveiled the interior of its capsule — designed by Frank Stephenson, a renowned industrial designer formerly of Ferrari and Maserati,.


Business Insider attended a London event hosted by the company to learn more about Halo Space and how it hopes to achieve its grand ambitions.

In the world of space tourism, the first companies that come to mind are the likes of SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic — which can cost millions of dollars for a ticket.

Halo Space is trying a different, cheaper route. It plans to use a capsule lifted by a helium balloon into the stratosphere.

The Spanish company says its capsules will cruise at 18 to 22 miles above the Earth — around the same height as Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking skydive back in 2012.

The trip would last for four to six hours in total. That’s longer than a Blue Origin or Virgin Galactic flight, but less than SpaceX’s.

But by using a balloon instead of jet engines, the price could be around $150,000 — compared to Virgin Galactic’s $450,000; Blue Origin’s $28 million; or Space X’s $55 million. It’s also more sustainable.

Only about 650 people have ever been to space. The firm’s CEO, Carlos Mira, claimed `Halo can up that figure to 10,000 by 2030 — aiming for at least two flights a week.

It plans to launch the capsule from sites in the US, Australia, Spain, and Saudi Arabia. The firm will set up temporary venues for customers that reflect the country, described as “more than glamping.”

At a press conference last Wednesday, Halo unveiled the interior of its space capsule, designed by Frank Stephenson — formerly of Ferrari and BMW.

Stephenson made his name designing the Fiat 500 and the BMW X5, among other cars, but has been more involved with aerospace firms in recent years. He previously spoke to Business Insider about his work designing electric-vertical-take-off-and-landing aircraft, or eVTOLs — commonly known as flying taxis. Like Halo, they’re focused on sustainability.

Stephenson spoke about how his design firm constructed its own 1:1 scale model of the capsule in order to figure out the best possible layout. “Computers don’t design, humans design. That’s really the only way to capture the human touch,” he said.

He and his team tried a few different arrangements to figure out how to best position the nine seats, which includes one for a pilot.

They settled on this design, with all the seats facing outwards during the main cruise to maximize the views. But during takeoff and landing, half face backward and half forward.

Stephenson shared the sketches of the seat design, showing how much thought went into details like the armrest and adjustable headrest.

The capsule also features fold-down dining trays to maximize space. The area at the bottom stores meals, hot or cold, and Halo says it would serve whatever the customer requests.

Stephenson said it was also important to maximize space for the bathroom: “Nobody likes a tight space. Even if you fly upper class in most commercial airliners, it’s quite tight and uncomfortable.”

The mannequin in the image represents the 95th percentile for male height.

One of the most intriguing features is its plans for augmented reality, like showing differing constellations in the sky or where on Earth the capsule is flying over.

Overall, the capsule is over 16 feet wide and 11 feet tall.

Halo has conducted five test flights since 2022 and hopes to launch commercial flights as soon as 2026.

But its grand ambitions won’t be easy to achieve. Halo thinks it will first be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration before getting approval in other countries.

Some at the press conference questioned whether Halo could face a similar fate as OceanGate, which owned the submersible that imploded last year. “Is this another way for rich people to kill themselves?” asked Aerospace Magazine’s editor in chief.

“Safety, for us, is the priority,” Mira replied. “We are using mature technologies. Balloons have been around for more than 200 years.” He also noted that Halo has partnered with engineering firms like Aciturri.