Want to travel to space? In 2024, balloons might take you part of the way there

Nearly half of Americans want to travel to space.

But that means the other half doesn’t, according to a 2021 survey by ValuePenguin, one of LendingTree’s financial research websites. Nearly 40% said space travel was too dangerous, while others worried about environmental impact and costs.

Soon there will be an option that addresses those worries, according to companies that plan to send passengers into “space” via high-altitude balloons.

In reality, the balloons rise less than half the distance to the technical definition of space, but that’s still nearly three times higher than most commercial flights travel — and high enough to see the Earth’s curvature.

Rather than a bone-rattling rocket launch, balloons are “very gentle,” said Jane Poynter, co-CEO at Space Perspective, which hopes to take passengers to the stratosphere in 2024.

There are no face-contorting “high Gs,” training isn’t required and trips don’t release carbon emissions either, she said.

The Florida-based company is using hydrogen to power its six-hour journeys, which Poynter said are going to be so smooth that passengers can eat, drink and walk around during the flight.

Hydrogen is being hailed as the “fuel of the future” — a potential game-changing energy source that could alter the world’s reliance on fossil fuels.

But after a series of conversations with people in the field, CNBC Travel found a lack of consensus on its safety.

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