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State Senate Debates a Space Tourism Port


The Senate is set to take up legislation today designed to pave the way for a space port in the state. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

Taber MacCallum of Tucson-based Paragon Space Development said the idea is to use a helium balloon to float a capsule with two crew and six passengers up to 20 miles, float along for a couple of hours and then use a steerable parachute to glide back to earth. Where the launches will take place is another question.

“It varies with the time of year. Sometimes you have lots of high winds and sometimes you don’t. There could be days when we come right back to where we started. And, there certainly could be days when we’re 300 miles away,” MacCallum said.

Paragon wants passengers to sign a waiver absolving the company of all liability should something go wrong. Today’s Senate vote would amend Arizona law to make that waiver enforceable. The cost of for the first flights, set for sometime in 2016, is $65,000. For that you get about two hours floating on top of the Earth’s atmosphere and taking in the view. MacCallum said also there will be munchies and champagne. And, yes, that’s included in the price tag.

“That would just be cheesy to say here you are at 100,000 feet, looking at the view. Oh, that champagne will be $10. That would be crazy,” MacCallum said.

MacCallum said the decision to locate a launch zone in the state goes beyond his company’s presence here. He said it turns out that the perfect place to launch high-altitude balloons is Page.

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