No, this is not the plot of a futuristic movie set in 2083. But it does involve advanced technology and almost-extraterrestrial activity.
It seems that Turkey is looking to space for possible touristic adventures. Well, near-space, at least. A Turkish company, VIP Tourism, plans to bring the Spanish designed ‘bloon’ to Konya, Turkey, as soon as 2014.
What the hell is a ‘bloon’ you ask? It’s a balloon-like pod that allows people to soar 36km above Earth for an astronaut view. That’s twice the cruise altitude of the super-speed Concorde. And seeing the tour goes for two whole hours, you might even get a chance to conduct a worldwide census from above.
Pretty neat if you can afford the €111,000 /passenger price tag. Sounds pricey? Considering other space travel options, it’s the best bargain you’ll find for a planetary experience.
I mean, it’s a hell of lot cheaper than orbital rockets that cost $56million per passenger to travel up to 400km altitude for a week. And it’s definitely longer than the $200,000 sub-orbital space travel up to 100km altitude for a mere seven minutes.
The idea, says inventor José Mariano Lopez-Urdiales, is all about bringing the experience of space to a wider audience. Granted, the ‘wider audience’ still refers to a small percentage of relatively rich people. The ‘general audience’ would need to sell their house or a kidney to afford such leisure. Make that two kidneys, and a liver.
The plus side over real space travel is that there’s no age or physical restriction, and no training required for dealing with G-forces. The safety and environmental impact is better too, seeing there’s no explosive elements. Just sit back, and enjoy the ride.
They’ll also serve food, including Turkish cuisine, so when weighing the pros and cons, one should definitely deduct that from the final cost. Eating out is expensive, after all.
Spain will host the first bloon flights, but VIP Tourism CEO Ceylan Pirinçcioğlu said plans are currently in place to create a terminal for flights in Konya.
Konya is the home of 13th-century Sufi poet Mevlana (Rumi), so you can also take a spiritual journey with Whirling Dervishes before shooting out to space. That’s another ‘pro’ to be deducted from the cost. Already, the price tag is looking better.
The goal is to get 100 flight reservations for 2014, with each flight taking four passengers and two pilots.
Perhaps I’ll get a postcard instead.