‘Spain to Space’ balloon ride nears lift off

A Marbella-based travel agent has teamed up with spaceflight specialists in Barcelona to offer high-flying tourists a six-hour round-trip into the stratosphere using a high-tech balloon.

'Spain to Space' balloon ride nears lift off
For just €110,000, tourists will be able to ascend through the ozone layer, have lunch, and return to Earth in time for supper. Photo: Zero2Infinity

CRIS&KIM Travel Designers in Marbella will offer customers with €110,000 to spare the experience of a balloon ride 36km up into the stratosphere.

But company director Christina Layva told The Local: "Not all of our products are so expensive – this is a special case, and that's why the cost is 'stratospheric' too!"

According to company spokesman José Urbaneja, two people have already booked seats on the flights which are scheduled to begin in 2015.

The first to brave the balloon ascent will be a well-known Russian blogger and a "Spanish citizen who wishes to remain anonymous", he told Europa Press.

Speaking to The Local about the connection between CHRIS&KIM and Catalan space-balloon specialists zero2infinity, Layva said: "We found each other mutually at a business event in Marbella."

"We just thought it was the most original idea in the world."

Marbella’s Councillor for tourism, Jose Luis Hernandez, also expressed enthusiasm for the publicity potential of the flights, noting: "We can say, ‘from Marbella to space’, as they can have breakfast in Marbella, eat in space and return to Marbella to sleep."

According to José Mariano of zero2infinity, "The trip takes about six hours in total; three to get up, two up and one down."

Those who wish to boldly go where almost no-one has gone before will ride in a capsule attached to a helium balloon that lifts off from an aerodrome in Córdoba.

"Passengers will be able to stand up and look out into space through the capsule windows and even eat inside the cabin," said Urbaneja.

Test flights are scheduled to begin in 2014.

Organizers say the experience will be similar to that of Felix Baumgartner who made a record 1357.64 km/h freefall parachute descent after ascending into the stratosphere in a balloon, although the return trip for space tourists is hoped to be a little slower.

Layva doesn't plan on offering mass-market package tours outside the planet's ozone layer.

"Our company creates tailor made holidays for individuals, " she told The Local.

"We don't have a catalogue; we design what people want."

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