By Tom Beal
The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson.
Former Biospherians Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum have left their posts with Paragon Space Development Corporation to pursue a space tourism business that will lift paying guests into the stratosphere with an enormous helium-filled balloon.
Paragon announced the departure of two of its founders last week, just days after the new company, World View, had demonstrated its technology by lifting a space-suited adventurer, Google executive Alan Eustace, 25 miles above the Earth’s surface for the longest sky dive ever made.
Poynter was president of the company and MacCallum was CEO. Grant Anderson, former chief operating officer at Paragon, has assumed both those titles.
World View was developed at Paragon and the two companies have a continuing business relationship, said Anderson.
MacCallum said World View is raising capital for its plans by attracting investors and selling seats on the 8-seated capsule that will float passengers into the stratosphere with a helium balloon and glide back to Earth on a “parawing” after a 2-hour tour of near space.
MacCallum said the first investment rounds have gone well and the venture has sold out “several” flights in advance.
Asked to define “several,” MacCallum said it was more than three and less than seven.
Seats in the World View capsule will cost in the neighborhood of $75,000. Refreshments will be included in the price.
Paragon, meanwhile, will focus on its core mission of providing life-support systems and thermal controls for use in extreme environments for NASA, the Department of Defense and private companies, said newly elected Board Chairman Ron Sable.
Sable said the corporate transition was “very orderly and very friendly.”
“Jane and Taber got this idea, which the board endorsed, to see if we could spin off an operation with space tourism,” Sable said. “I regret having them leave because they have such talent.”