New Russian technology could carry tourists to the edge of space

The test launch of the space suit and balloons
The test launch of the space suit and balloons Stratonavtika vis YouTube screengrab

Space tourism is arguably the most exciting thing when it comes to travel and a Russian company is working on a way to carry tourists to the edge of space, much like Virgin Galactic and Blue origin, but in a suit and balloon instead of a rocket-powered aircraft.

Russia's state-run news agency- Ria-Novosti reports that developers of the system recently launched a space suit called the "Sokol" and a dummy called "Valera" inside it. It achieved an altitude of about 25.7 kilometres on what the report is calling "helium spheres", from a video put out by Stratonavtika, it is looks like a cluster of large weather balloons.

Developers of the Sokol put out a release wherein they said that, the climb was carried out on a "cluster stratostat" made of six huge helium-filled balloons. After launch, a parachute brought Valera back down about 50 km from the launch site. This was the first test of what they believe to be a future tourist system to the stratosphere. Valera, the mannequin was outfitted with a camera where the head should be as well as a long list of sensors placed strategically to gather as much information as possible from inside the spacesuit. The flight test was carried out at Nikolaevsk in Volgograd.

"Everything worked well," said chief engineer and one of the founders of the company Denis Efremov, after the launch and landing of Valera, "now we will be able to create assemblies capable of lifting a man in a spacesuit. This is not only cheaper than the use of large stratostats with a sealed capsule, but, according to our calculations, is much more reliable."

For the next stage of this project, notes the report, Stratonavtika will be developing a life support system for their spacesuit. The want it to be capable of ensuring a safe and reliable ascent to the edge of space work reliably as they parachute back to the ground.

There will be no space planes or rockets, so this could be the cheapest way to get to space and back. As to when the company plans on opening their services to the general public, there was no word of it in the report.

Related topics : Space