World View is excited to start the next chapter of high-altitude ballooning history, drawing upon the experience of predecessors who ushered in the space age. Well before Wernher von Braun came to the U.S. to develop the first rocket booster for the Apollo space program, scientists used high-altitude balloons to research the space environment. These balloons were also used to study the effects of space on the human body and to develop ways to mitigate issues – methods later adopted by NASA for human spaceflight. In addition, high-altitude balloons have been used to study deep space astrophysics, and to make important Earth observations.
The earliest gas-balloon flights date back to the late 18th century when Jacques Charles and Nicolas-Louis Robert piloted the first gas-filled balloon in France on Dec. 1, 1783, the day that human flight was born. The envelope was filled with hydrogen. Since then, gas ballooning has evolved into high-altitude ballooning, and over the last half century, hundreds of balloon flights provided science with not only invaluable data, but some breathtaking views of our planet. In fact, high-altitude ballooning was used as an analog in the development of human spaceflight. It is a reliable, durable and dependable mode of exploring the edge of space.