I was pretty disappointed that when NASA’s space shuttle program (STS) was shut down, they didn’t have a replacement ready to go. The replacement was actually canceled last October due to budgetary constraints. Nevertheless, check out this ingenious way to get into space, using a balloon instead of a rocket, so going into space won’t be as rough as you first imagined.
This lighter-than-air balloon vehicle is called the Bloon, and it was created by the Barcelona-based company Zero2infinity. It lifts off using a specially-crafted inflatable dome. There is a central pod with windows, that can house 4 passengers and 2 pilots. The ship is connected to a large helium balloon. That’s the only propellant this balloon uses.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKDfLsDBQ5Y
In order to land, the pod is decelerated using a parafoil. There are also eight inflatable landing struts that will absorb the shock upon touchdown. The prototype was tested successfully up to 20.5 miles. That’s in the Earth’s stratosphere.
The first human test flight is expected to happen in 2012, and they’re expecting passengers will be able to go up 36km by 2015. A 3-hour flight will cost €110,000 ($160,000 USD) per person if you want to ride in the Bloon.