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A Giant Balloon Could Aid Astronomers in Obtaining a Precise Vision of Space

Astronomers may use a balloon the size of a football stadium to acquire crystal-clear images of space for a tenth of the expense of an orbiting telescope like Hubble.

The SuperBIT project’s secret weapon is a simple helium balloon that floats up to 40 kilometers above the Earth’s surface and inflates to the size of a football stadium when fully inflated. SuperBIT (the Super pressure balloon-borne imaging telescope) is an attempt to combine the best of both worlds of orbiting and ground-based astronomy. It was developed by a consortium of researchers from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. 

Traditional ground-based telescopes must contend with the fact that the atmosphere is exceptionally good at sustaining their observations and with the problem that, while the atmosphere is excellent at nourishing all human life, it is pretty awful at allowing light from space to pass through without misrepresenting it. Thus, making it difficult to acquire clear photographs of astronomical objects. 

Orbital observatories, such as the Hubble space telescope, sidestep this difficulty, but they are extremely expensive to build, launch, and operate. By attaching vehicles to huge space balloons, Space Perspective hopes to give space travelers a smooth ride to the edge of space. A reservation for a six-hour flight costs $125,000 right now. Space Perspective’s pitch, dubbed “the world’s first premium spaceflight experience,” reimagines the thrill of space exploration without requiring a multi-g-force rocket trip. Instead, a football stadium-sized balloon will gently carry you 20 miles above the Earth to the edge of the atmosphere.

Photographs of Earth from space, depicting the planet’s curvature, can be taken there. Neptune One, a private enterprise, will be the first space launch operator to launch from Space Coast Spaceport (near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida) beginning in 2024. On June 18, the firm completed a test flight. In an interview with VentureBeat, Jane Poynter, co-founder of Space Perspective, said that space explorers and travel adventurers looking to add to their bucket list will be able to enjoy 360-degree views of the planet Earth from 20 miles above in a luxurious six-hour trip aboard Spaceship Neptune, which is propelled by a state-of-the-art space balloon the size of a football stadium. 

Written By: Yashfa Fatima

Reported By: Imaaz Nadeem

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