1. What happened?
World View, an Arizonan company that's offering stratospheric balloon flights for research payloads, still sees a great future for a platform that arguably combines the best attributes of satellites and aircraft, despite a recent testing incident at its headquarters.
On December 19, 2017, World View tested a hydrogen-filled balloon at its headquarters that ended in a balloon rupture that caused an explosion. The shock waves from the explosion reportedly caused some damage to neighboring businesses and homes, including falling ceiling tiles at a nearby Raytheon Missile Systems plant.
2. What is World View and its Stratospheric Balloon?
World View is a stratospheric company that wants to tap into weather forecasting, communications, remote sensing and other things that are usually done in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The balloon can stay at one altitude, carry payloads, and uses solar power to change its density to maneuver in the air (pump air in to go down, let air out to go up). The balloon can actually stabilize on top of the desired area for its payloads to record the best data available.
This is certainly a new approach to flying payloads and other types of experiments. It will certainly be a great alternative to LEO launch services and probably for a lower price. We wish World View the best of luck in their future endeavors!