HONG KONG — A start-up in Sapporo, Hokkaido, hopes to popularise high-altitude travel by sending people into the stratosphere in a helium balloon from Japan’s northernmost main island, enabling them to view a stunning spectacle of Earth from above.
In a manned test flight in late-July, the balloon reached a record-high altitude of 6km. It is expected to attain its final target, a height of 25km, by the end of 2023.
Iwaya, which started the project, says that if the balloon can reach such an altitude, it will be possible soon for customers to view the blueness of the Earth below and the darkness of space above on their journeys. However, such a journey will not come cheap for the average customer.
In the morning haze of July 23, the helium-powered balloon quietly lifted off from Iwaya’s testing site in the district of Tokachi in Hokkaido.