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World View plans to map the world with balloons

The launch event at World View’s new Global Headquarters, with a model stratollite (right).

Stratospheric technology company, World View, has announced the grand opening of its new global headquarters campus, collocated with Spaceport Tucson. The 142,000-square-foot facility is the world’s first purpose-built commercial gateway to the Stratosphere. World View aims to use the facility as launchpad for their customised ‘stratollites,’ which are used to fly various types of payloads, such as remote sensing capture platforms.

World View’s founder and CEO, Jane Poynter, formerly a Biosphere 2 crew member with a long and successful executive career in aerospace, describes the moment as a major step in unlocking the untapped economic and scientific potential of the stratosphere.

“World View and Spaceport Tucson are at the forefront of opening an entirely new economy in the stratosphere,” said Poynter. “For decades, trillions of dollars of commerce have been transacted in commercial airspace and in low-earth orbit, but the stratosphere has been largely ignored. With the grand opening of this facility and all the great work being done within its walls, we’re embarking on a new era of affordable and meaningful commercial access to this layer of Earth’s atmosphere.”

World View’s founder and CEO, Jane Poynter launches the new facility.

World View made the decision to call Tucson, Arizona home after a rigorous nation-wide search and negotiations with multiple state agencies. The newly constructed facility in Tucson will house the company’s stratospheric balloon manufacturing, stratocraft assembly, Stratollite and Voyager development activities, payload integration, and flight mission control. Among many of the unique features of the facility is a stratospheric balloon manufacturing table stretching over 1/10 of a mile long, a 100ft tall parafoil test and quality control tower currently housing one of the world’s largest parafoils, and a world-class mission control room overlooking the 700ft diameter launch pad that is Spaceport Tucson.

World View hosted a Grand Opening ceremony led by World View co-founders Jane Poynter, Taber MacCallum, Astronaut Mark Kelly, and Dr Alan Stern. The ceremony included remarks from Senator John McCain, NASA’s Associate Administrator of the Space Technology Mission Directorate Stephen Jurczyk, and the FAA’s Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Dr George Nield, while welcoming guests from around the world that included spaceflight reservation holders, world-class researchers and scientists, Silicon Valley financiers and elected officials.

“[Arizona] has a bright and prosperous future thanks to companies like World View that continue to push the boundaries of technology, innovation, and exploration,” said Arizona U.S. Senator John McCain. “In just a few short years, World View has made historic breakthroughs that have revolutionized the areas of disaster recovery, first response, communications, and weather forecasting. World View’s remarkable research and development will soon make possible what was previously impossible.”

World View’s new remotely managed, un-crewed Stratollite vehicle aims to offer low-cost payload delivery, months at a time, over customer-specified areas of interest. Among the many possibilities, World View has made a point of highlighting the application of remote sensing- offering low-cost, real-time, high-resolution imagery data from the stratosphere.

In February, World View and Ball Aerospace launched a collaborative Stratollite remote sensing mission from Arizona that demonstrated the platform’s superior capability as a high-altitude imaging platform. The mission’s low-resolution test camera returned 5 metre resolution imagery, successfully demonstrating the platform for a wide variety of remote sensing applications. World View mark’s the mission a major step on the path to the commercial offerings.

The two companies plan to build on the success of the flight with subsequent Stratollite missions that will carry high-resolution Ball Aerospace sensors for long-duration, persistent flights over desired locations.

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