A video obtained by the Arizona Daily Independent shows flames shooting into the sky as a World View balloon filled with hydrogen exploded on Tuesday. The explosion rocked buildings up to one mile away.
World View promotes itself as a near-space tourism company providing trips to wealthy wannabe space travelers.
Employees at nearby defense industry businesses ran out of buildings believing that there was an attack of some kind.
World View issued the following statement: “Following the completion of a successful fill test on the launch pad, during the process of backing out of the full fill configuration, a significant balloon rupture occurred which was reportedly heard in the local area. We have reached out to reassure our immediate neighbors. There were no injuries and only superficial facility damage at the site. The flight system itself was unaffected.”
Pima County owns the facility and leases it to World View. As yet, the damage from the explosion and costs to taxpayers, if any, is yet unknown.
The World View facility was built on land that was intended to serve as a buffer zone for Raytheon. Raytheon has missiles stored in bunkers on its property.
World View’s explosion caused ceiling tiles to fall on Raytheon employees, according to sources.
According to sources, World View used hydrogen, a very volatile gas, in the balloon. Experts question the wisdom of using such a dangerous gas near a missile site as well as Davis Monthan Air Force base and Tucson International Airport.
In May, the Arizona Daily Independent (ADI) reported that Pima County purchased expensive furniture and equipment for World View along with the $15 million the County spent on building the the company’s headquarters and launchpad. Documents revealed “that taxpayers also purchased a tracking antenna for $90,845, a weather station for $148,936, window coverings for $28,015, systems furniture for $190,339, manufacturing specialty furniture for $109,150, and lockers for $10,337,” according to the ADI.
The County’s unusual arrangement with World View has resulted in a lawsuit by the Goldwater Institute on behalf of Pima County Taxpayers.
“It should not surprise anyone that Chuck Huckelberry is able to find $15 million to build the World View facility which includes close to a million dollars of lavish furnishings and decorations for his cronies, yet he is never able to find monies for the failing roads,” Supervisor Ally Miller told the ADI at the time.