Following the successful completion of a couple of crucial test flights by Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, space tourism services from both companies look set to launch some time next year.
Both rides rely on rockets to get passengers up to somewhere near the Kármán line, the boundary 62 miles above Earth that’s widely regarded as the start of space.
But there’s another company intent on offering the trip of a lifetime high above the clouds, one that takes things at an altogether more leisurely pace.
Space Perspective has built and tested Spaceship Neptune, a luxury eight-seat piloted capsule that’s lifted skyward by a giant hydrogen-filled balloon. The interior includes reclining chairs, a refreshments bar, Wi-Fi, and all-around windows
The Florida-based company this week shared a video (below) offering a glimpse of what the experience will look like.
It’s worth pointing out that despite the use of the “space” for both the company name and vehicle, Spaceship Neptune only rises 20 miles above Earth, well short of the Kármán line though around three times higher than a long-haul passenger jet. And unlike the experiences offered by both Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, there will be no zero-gravity experience where you can float around the capsule for several minutes.
Space Perspective’s ride will, however, last six hours, which is way longer than, say, Blue Origin’s trip, which takes just 10 minutes from launch to landing.
Passengers aboard the balloon will enjoy a relaxing two-hour ascent, a further two hours to enjoy the gorgeous views, and then a two-hour descent back home.
At $125,000, a ticket for a ride on Spaceship Neptune is a little more affordable than a Virgin Galactic seat that means coughing up $450,000. Blue Origin is yet to announce prices.
Space Perspective started selling tickets for its experience a few months ago. The first flights are set to take place in 2024, though the company says it’s already sold out for then, with ride for 2025 now available.
Besides offering pleasure trips, the capsule will also serve as a high-altitude laboratory, allowing scientists engaged in subjects such as climate and solar physics to conduct experiments in a part of Earth’s atmosphere little researched up to now.
Space Perspective’s balloon will launch from Florida’s Space Coast Spaceport close to the Kennedy Space Center, with the company planning to add additional launch sites around the world over time.