Tucson — Commercial space travel may seem like science fiction, but by 2016, lawmakers are hoping that you’ll be able to hitch a ride to the stratosphere right here in Ariz.
Space Development Company Paragon based in Tucson is developing a high altitude balloon ride to the edge of space. For $75,000, participants will travel above the stratosphere for a two-hour trip.
CEO and Co-Founder, Taber MacCallum said lift off could start as early as 2016.
“High altitude ballooning really popped out as the way to take people to the edge of space, to see the curvature of the earth, the stars in the black sky without a rocket ride,” MacCallum said.
MacCallum said the company has already started selling tickets.
“People are very excited about the prospects of flying and especially out of Page where the views of the Grand Canyon and geology around Page are fabulous,” he said.
Paragon has been running tests in preparation for their first balloon launch, but all of this can’t happen unless House Bill 2163 is signed into law. Legal issues could keep space tourism grounded.
House Bill 2163 would give space travel companies like Paragon limit their liability by having customers sign a waver before the ride.
Primary sponsor Ethan Orr said Paragon cannot operate in the state if the bill does not pass.
“It’s impossible for these companies to get any sort of liability insurance because there is no law. Texas and New Mexico have already passed similar laws that allow commercial space flight, and I want to make sure Arizona doesn’t miss that boat,” Orr said.
The bill passed in the state house with an overwhelming yes. It is now out of committee in the Senate, and must come to a full vote.
“We are almost home, I just need the Senate President to schedule it for a hearing,” Orr said.
Orr said he is optimistic that the bill will become law this session. If it passes, Paragon has plans to launch 50 flights from Northern Arizona in their first year.