Meet the 85-year-old Woman Taking a Trip to Space
“When you’re 85, the sky is the limit.”
Dolores Seiler, who just turned 85 years old this June, is currently on the waiting list to take a journey to space.
Seiler has signed up for her trip through World View Enterprises, a balloon-based space-tourism company that will start taking passengers to space in a capsule that is attached to a 40-million-cubic-foot helium balloon (approximately the size of an NFL football field).
The company is still in the process of finalizing its system before it officially launches, which could be sometime in 2018, according to Andrew Antonio, director of marketing at World View.
When the time comes for her journey, Seiler will be taken to an elevation of 100,000, where she’ll be able to marvel at the Earth for about two hours before descending.
For Seiler, who traveled often with her husband during their 60-year marriage, traveling means becoming involved in a specific destination. Taking this trip would allow her the chance to see the entire Earth, rather than just one place.
Seiler, who wears a pacemaker, told Travel + Leisure that she was not interested in traveling to space in a rocket, but the idea of being gently lifted into space by a balloon was something she was highly interested in.
World View’s aircraft travels at a speed of 1,000 feet per minute, allowing for a slower pace. Thanks to this, passengers don't need to undergo through intensive pre-medical screenings and are given ample time to be able to study and gaze at the Earth.
According to Antonio, the inspiration behind World View’s technology came from the stories the company’s co-founders heard from astronauts who came down to Earth. While the astronauts departed to discover the universe, they unanimously came back saying the journey allowed them to discover the planet.
“There was a perspective shift these astronauts had when going to space…they would see this fragile and delicate layer of Earth’s atmosphere and from that vantage point, they began to see the Earth as a collaborative space where all the conflicts that once seemed important started to diminish,” Antonio told T+L.
This is why World View wanted to create an experience that allows passengers a longer period of time to truly gaze at and admire the Earth from above.
“Imagine if you can take a teacher, an artist, or a musician there…that type of visceral emotion has the potential to change the world,” Antonio said.
For Seiler, having the ability to “stay in one spot and be able to see things on Earth rather than blasting away,” was an appeal as well.
Since the company’s transportation is similar to taking a flight on a commercial airline—just at a much higher elevation—Seiler is safe to take the journey and was even encouraged to do so by her cardiologist.
Since she is departing in 2018, Seiler exercise twice a week at the Pulmonary Wellness & Rehabilitation Center in New York, with a workout that consists of tai chi, about 25 minutes on the treadmill, exercises on the rowing machine, 15 minutes on a stationary bike, and sometimes, weight exercises.
“It’s wonderful motivation for my health to take this trip,” Seiler said.
She first heard about the company during an event that former NASA astronaut, Mark Kelly, who is the director of flight crew operations at World View, was speaking at.
“He started talking about the new venture of World View and as soon as I heard him talking about it, I jumped up and said, ‘that’s on my bucket list’,” Seiler told T+L.
After speaking with Antonio, she signed up for the journey online, which requires that you put down a $7,500 deposit for the $75,000 trip, though Antonio said they expect that the prices will go up due to demand.
“I was thinking, I used to take my entire family on a trip during Christmas and it would cost me around $30,000, but since I haven’t been doing that for some period now, I have the money and it’s for me, it’s my time,” Seiler said.
When flights begin, they will depart from Spaceport Tucson in Tucson, Arizona, and will include a bar, bathroom and WiFi on board, with two passengers seated in front of each window.
Seiler remembers traveling to Alaska with her husband 15 years ago, when it was thought of as the world's last frontier.
Now, she’ll be ascending high up to view the Earth’s curvature and the coast of California, which is one of the sights she is most excited to see.
Seiler, who has two children and six grandchildren, said her son is supportive and excited about the journey.
“My daughter is negative about it and all of her children say not in a million years, but they’re young,” Seiler said. “When you’re 85, the sky is the limit.”
Talia Avakian is a digital reporter at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @TaliaAvak.