Few of us will ever fly into space. But flying in a high-altitude balloon can be just as exciting and will definitely cost less, says BBC Future.
A breathtaking panorama opens in front of you from the large window. You are so high above the ground that you cannot see the details. Only the largest objects are discernible - wide rivers, mountains towering over the carpets of the plains and urban massifs gleaming in the rays of the sun.
And the horizon at this height is an arc instead of a straight line.
The sky looks unusual too. Instead of the deep blue that we are used to seeing from the side of a passenger plane, here it is almost black, strewn with thousands of stars, most of which cannot be seen from the ground.
This is an unusual flight. While you admire the view from a giant porthole, similar to those that adorn the bows of Imperial fighters from the movie "Star Wars", passenger airliners follow the airways far below.
You are aboard one of the high-altitude balloons of World View Enterprises, which is about to send tourists on a flight to an altitude of 32 km above the ground.
The company, based in Tucson, Arizona, has conducted only a few test flights so far. The commercial use of balloons is scheduled to begin next year.
But this is just another chapter in the history of the exploitation of high-altitude balloons, which played an important role in the conquest of both the sky and space.
Thanks to balloons, people took to the sky a hundred years before the first flight of the Wright brothers' aircraft.
Where: Moscow region, Star City village
From the point of view of physics, it is not necessary to get rid of excess weight in the gym: it is much easier to achieve the desired effect in the cabin of the IL-76 airbus. The training plane of the Cosmonaut Training Center flies along a specially calculated curve: it gains two and a half kilometers of altitude, immediately drops them - and so ten times in a row. At each top point of the "slide", passengers fall into zero gravity for 25-30 seconds. During such training, astronaut candidates learn to quickly put on a spacesuit, transfer loads to each other, and even drink water. But they do not require much from newcomers: rejoice, somersault in the air and pose for a photographer.
You can also feel like a colleague of Yuri Gagarin on earth. At the CTC in Star City, you can test yourself on space simulators: check the vestibular apparatus in a centrifuge, learn how to fly the Soyuz spacecraft and try what it is like to eat meat from tubes.
Do not forget to look into the RSC Energia museum in Korolev - it is a 50-minute drive away: you will not find such a collection of artifacts of Soviet cosmonautics anywhere else.
How much: from 200,000 rubles
How to get there: book a flight 14 days in advance with an official operator, take tickets to Moscow, order a transfer, or take a train to Korolev from Yaroslavsky railway station.
Look into a telescope, make a model of a starship or attend a performance on a space theme - what events will take place in honor of Cosmonautics Day 2019 in Moscow parks, read on the ParkSeason website.
If 200,000 rubles is not the amount that you are ready to pay in five minutes in zero gravity, an alternative can be found in one of the spa centers in your city, where there are floating cameras: for 60 minutes you will find yourself in closed room or a futuristic capsule, where sounds, light and, it seems, even unnecessary thoughts do not penetrate. Your body will balance on the surface of salty water, warmed to its natural temperature, and after a few minutes you will no longer feel it.
If you can't relax in a saline solution, try flying in a wind tunnel - no relaxation and meditation, but unusual sensations are guaranteed. It's funny that this popular attraction was not invented for school trips and original corporate events, but for training professional skydivers. A few minutes of free fall is really compared to a parachute jump; a pleasant difference is that a wind tunnel does not require nerves of steel and excellent health.
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