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Jane Poynter & World View Making the Stratosphere Accessible

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
June 6, 2018
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Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum are both veterans of Biosphere 2. (Credit: World View)

TUCSON (PISCES PR) — Jane Poynter is no stranger to big ideas. World View, the Tucson-based stratospheric flight and technology company, is just the latest game-changing venture for Poynter, the biospherian turned entrepreneur/CEO and humanitarian.

Most wouldn’t describe Ms. Poynter’s journey in life as ordinary. Quickly after primary school, Poynter developed an early and insatiable appetite for audacious projects. This gravitational force led her on an international trek of self-exploration and education that concluded with her earning a spot on the eight-person roster of Biosphere 2, a project widely regarded as the first large-scale, terrestrial space colonization experiment.

Poynter would spend two full years enclosed inside the completely sealed 3.14-acre artificial ecosystem alongside seven other biospherians, including her now lifelong partner and World View co-founder and CTO, Taber MacCallum. The scientific, engineering, and ecological contributions of Biosphere 2 remain immeasurable today, a whole 25 years after Poynter stepped out of Biosphere 2 and back into Biosphere 1 (planet Earth) with her nearly 7 billion new crewmates.

But Poynter hasn’t slowed down since leaving Biosphere 2. In fact, she’s built upon the many successes, hardships, and learnings of that project to bring new visions and ideas to life. Poynter and MacCallum have, together, embarked on many bold entrepreneurial pursuits, including the formation of Paragon Space Development Corporation, a life-support technology company which has grown into one of the premier Environmental Control and Life Support System companies on Earth.

Paragon designs and produces critical technology needed to sustain life in hazardous environments like the International Space Station and Boeing’s new CST-100 Crew Space Transportation spacecraft. Under Poynter’s leadership, Paragon also successfully completed project StratEx, an experimental program that designed, built, and flew a system for human stratospheric exploration via high-altitude balloon. Project StratEx and pilot Alan Eustace now hold the world record for the highest human balloon flight in history, coming in at 135,908 feet.

If Biosphere 2, Paragon, and StratEx weren’t enough, Poynter has since embarked on perhaps her most audacious project yet—pioneering an entirely new economy in the stratosphere. Beginning in 2013, Poynter’s focus shifted towards building and growing World View, which is now widely regarded as the world’s leading stratospheric flight and technology company. What began as a novel and unique approach to human space exploration has grown into a company uniquely positioned to tap into the value of a layer of Earth’s atmosphere that has been widely ignored for decades—the stratosphere.

As co-founder and CEO, Poynter is leading World View in the development of new technologies that leverage the natural advantages of the stratosphere to solve critical, real world problems. Principally among those technologies is the Stratollite, a stratospheric vehicle that offers customers breakthrough navigation, control, and station-keeping capabilities for long-duration missions.

In short, the Stratollite combines many of the benefits of geo-stationary satellites, LEO satellites, and high-altitude drones, all at a fraction of the cost of those technologies. Sustained, controlled flight in the stratosphere has remained technically out of reach until Ms. Poynter’s team took on the challenge. The Stratollite is already serving a myriad of applications that have been traditionally served by satellites and aerial platforms, and it’s positioned to unlock unprecedented new use-cases that were never feasible.

World View has gone through several successful financing rounds and is now backed by some of the most notable Silicon Valley investment firms, including early adopters in Facebook, Dropbox, DJI, and others. Today, World View designs, manufactures, and launches its own stratospheric balloons and Stratollites for a variety of customers (including NASA) from World View’s new 142,000-square-foot global HQ located in Tucson, Arizona—the world’s first purpose-built stratospheric ballooning facility.

After years of successful development and growth, Poynter still views the great progress at World View as just a fruitful beginning. In her pursuit to open the stratosphere for commerce and science alike, for Poynter, the sky was never the limit.

2 responses to “Jane Poynter & World View Making the Stratosphere Accessible”

  1. Jacob Samorodin says:

    World View certainly does not, has not generated vaporware, and have several remarkable achievements at the frontier of space (25-40 kilometers up). But I question how much of a profitable or ambitious payload they can boost to LEO from a fragile (they tear easily) stratospheric airship platform?

    • ThomasLMatula says:

      Rockoons were popular in the 1950’s and a handful of firms have been working to bring them back, like JP Aerospace. The big problem is not that balloons are fragile but that it’s difficult to control their course making insertion of the payload into the correct orbit difficult.

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