View of Earth
View of Earth from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer aboard the Terra satellite. NASA/JPL.

A helium balloon that can reach the Earth's stratosphere will give wannabe space lovers the opportunity to become 'space tourists' and see the planet's curvature.

The helium balloon can climb to a height of 36km, has a 129 metre diameter and has been described as a 'near-spaceship'.

The five-hour trip to space is not cheap however as it is set to cost 90,000 pounds per person, including a three hour cruise at an altitude where the blackness of space can be seen above and the curvature of the earth below.

Passengers will be able to sit in a cabin large enough for four passengers and two pilots and as the cabin is pressurised, people will not have to wear special clothes.

Before being allowed to board the balloon passengers will have to attend two days safety training.

The balloon will also be used to carry out experiments that will measure the atmosphere and levels of pollution.

As the sail is slowly vented, the pod descends until the sail separates from the pod. A parachute is deployed to fly the pod back to earth and the pod can be flown 40km in any direction to safely guide it to a predetermined landing site, The Telegraph reported.

Spanish entrepreneur Jose Mariano Lopez-Urdiales, from Barcelona is behind the concept and has conducted up to five test flights which have reached a height of 33 kilometres.

Mariano Lopez-Urdiale, 33 years old, said he plans to fly the first mission with people aboard in 2013.

"Going up into the earth's stratosphere in a balloon is a lot cheaper than doing it by rocket.

"You get to spend much more time high above and there is no engine noise.

"I first had the idea about 10 years ago and since then I've found people to finance the project and built prototypes.

"We've had several successful test flights and we're almost ready to send the first people up.

"I think there will be many people who will want to go on the trip.

"We plan to time each flight so that passengers will be able to see the sun dawning.

"It's not about the prestige, it's the view from up high that people want to see.

"It will be an unforgettable experience - people will be able to see stars during the day and the sun will look completely different.

"People will enjoy it because being that high reminds them they come from a planet, and are part of something much bigger.

"It brings up lots of feelings in people that we are all connected and we believe that's beneficial for the human experience," he told the Telegraph.