Space tourism sounds exciting and unforgettable and all, but with a single trip costing as much as a small house, it's simply out of reach for the average person. A company called Paragon Space Development Corp is hoping to change that with a new, more affordable ticket to space. It'll cost as much as a slightly smaller house.

Paragon's new project is called World View. It will carry passengers as high as 100,000 feet (or about 18 miles) above the Earth using a giant balloon that's not unlike the one that Felix Baumgartner used for his historic jump last year. Now, this altitude isn't quite high enough for zero gravity, and it's not extreme enough to require space suits or air masks. But that's part of the charm. "You can be sitting up there having your beverage of choice watching this extraordinary spectacle of the Earth below you and the blackness of space," Paragon president Jane Poynter told Discovery News. "It really is very gentle."

The best part? It only costs $75,000 per person. That's still a lot of money, but it's a bargain compared to tickets on Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, which go for $250,000 (though that bird also flies 60 miles higher). Paragon's CEO and co-founder Taber MacCallum says the project's goal is "bringing space to the masses." The view, he added, will be high enough to see "a curved Earth with its thin blue atmosphere against the blackness of space." Of course, some would argue that this is not quite "space," but it may be close enough for some.


It's hard to imagine the proletariat lining up to drop 75 large ones on a balloon ride. But the mere existence of a little competition in the space tourism industry is bound to be a good thing. World View's first liftoff is slated for 2016. [WSJ]