World View Tycho
Test flight of World View's Tycho vehicle. Credit: World View

WASHINGTON — World View Enterprises, an Arizona-based company that aims to carry paying passengers into the stratosphere aboard a high-altitude balloon, announced July 28 it has selected three research payloads to carry aloft during flight tests planned for later this year.

Alan Stern, the former senior NASA official now serving as World View’s chief scientist, said during a July 26 presentation at the NewSpace 2014 conference in San Jose, California, that the payloads will fly aboard the company’s subscale Tycho vehicle at no cost to the experimenters in exchange for World View gaining the opportunity to demonstrate the balloon system’s research and education capabilities. 

A larger Tycho vehicle capable of carrying six people some 37,000 meters above Earth’s surface for panoramic views of the planet and the blackness of space is under development for commercial flights slated to begin in 2016. 

World View completed its first balloon-launched flight test of the unmanned, subscale Tycho prototype in June, sending it aloft from Roswell, New Mexico, to a near-space altitude of roughly 36,600 meters. The vehicle was then lowered back down to 15,000 meters, where it deployed the aerodynamic parafoils it used for landing. 

Additional test flights planned for later this year will carry the selected payloads, which include a meteor imager from the SETI Institute of Mountain View, California, a student-built ozone monitor from the Florida Space Grant Consortium, and a radiation-measurement experiment from Los Angeles-based Space Environment Technologies.

SpaceNews editorial intern Sydney Mineer is studying journalism at American University in Washington.