Big floating object over Palm Beach County was giant space balloon – Palm Beach Post
A billowy object floating above West Palm Beach like an ethereal jellyfish on Wednesday was from a company hoping to take tourists on balloon trips to space.
The Tucson-based company World View said in a statement that the balloon, which can expand to the size of a football field, had been spotted over South Florida and was part of routine testing for its Stratolite program.
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“The flight is under operational control from World View’s headquarters. We expect the testing to last for a few days,” the statement said.
World View balloons float using helium to 100,000 feet above Earth and have been used to capture high-resolution imagery of the planet.
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But its website also includes information on space tourism beginning in 2024 where travelers ascend slowly for two hours to reach an altitude where they can see the curvature of the Earth and stars against the inky darkness of space.
Cost for a six-to-12-hour journey, with in-flight food and beverage service, begins at $50,000, according to the website.
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Robert Molleda, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Miami, immediately suspected the space balloon when shown a fuzzy picture of the object.
He said weather balloons, which are launched twice a day from the Miami office, usually land in the Everglades or the Atlantic Ocean depending on the wind direction. While weather balloons also soar to 100,000 feet, they don’t expand to the size of a football stadium and are only designed to carry a small sensor to measure temperature, humidity, pressure and wind direction.
“It’s very rare to get a call about a balloon,” Molleda said. “They are only in the air 45 to 60 minutes.”
Weather balloons, which are filled with hydrogen, expand as they rise in the atmosphere before popping and slowly drifting to Earth.
World View balloons have stayed in the air for 45 days.
via Inferse.com https://www.inferse.com
May 14, 2022 at 05:22AM