Arizona Senate To Review Spaceport Measure

Published: Monday, April 21, 2014 - 10:35am

The Arizona Senate is to take up legislation today to pave the way for a spaceport in the state.

Tucson-based Paragon Space Development wants to send a helium balloon with a capsule attached, containing two crew members and six passengers, up about 20 miles above the Earth, where they would float for a couple hours. 

Taber McCallum of Paragon says a steerable parachute would then be used to glide back to Earth, but he says where they would land is a little unpredictable.

“It varies with the time of year,” McCallum said. “Sometimes you have lots of high winds and sometimes you don't. There could be days when we come right back to where we started, and there certainly could be days when we're 300 miles away.”

Paragon wants passengers to sign a waiver absolving the company of all liability should something go wrong. It wants lawmakers to vote to make that waiver enforceable.

The cost of the flights would be about $65,000, with the first launch expected in 2016.

McCallum says beyond his company’s location in the state, it turns out Page, Ariz., is the perfect spot to launch the high-altitude balloon flights.

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