Area Perspective provides tickets for Stratospheric Balloon Excursions
Florida-based Space Perspective opens its ticket window for 20 mile high balloon flights that offer an astronaut’s perspective of Earth.
Listed price for a six-hour trip to the stratosphere and back is $ 125,000. The flights are scheduled to start at the end of 2024.
Space Perspective co-CEOs Taber MacCallum and Jane Poynter revealed the outline of their plan for travel in a balloon capsule called Spaceship Neptune a year ago. Since then, the concept has matured. Just last week, the company announced that it had successfully conducted an unmanned test of its Neptune One prototype over Florida.
The test balloon lifted off from the Space Coast Spaceport adjacent to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and rose to an altitude of 108,409 feet in a 6-hour and 39-minute flight. An on-board camera captured spectacular views of the earth beneath the black sky of space.
At the end of the test, Neptune One splashed in the Gulf of Mexico, 80 kilometers off the west coast of Florida.
“This test flight of Neptune One starts our extensive test flight campaign, which will be extremely robust because we can run tests without a pilot, which makes the spacecraft Neptune an extremely safe path into space,” said MacCallum in a press release.
The spacecraft Neptune is expected to reach an altitude less than a third of the 100-kilometer (62 miles) mark that serves as the internationally recognized boundary of space. And because the ascent of the balloon at 20 km / h is much gentler than the explosion of a rocket ship, the passengers will never feel weightless during the journey. But Space Perspective insists that the opportunity to get a space-like view of the earth’s prospects for hours instead of minutes will attract adventurers.
The balloon capsule is built to comfortably accommodate a pilot and up to eight passengers, with a bar, bathroom and WiFi on board. A co-pilot and a support team monitor operations from the ground. When it is time to descend, the balloon and its capsule sink onto a water syringe, and a salvage ship would pick up the passengers and hardware and bring them all back to shore.
Customers can book flights through Space Perspective’s website with a refundable deposit of $ 1,000 per person. The first 25 flights are reserved for “Legacy Explorers” who will probably pay more.
In addition to tourism, the Neptune flights can also appeal to researchers who specialize in atmospheric or space sciences.
The $ 125,000 ticket price is below the hundreds of thousands of dollars (or maybe even millions) Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin charge for suborbital flights to the edge of space, and far less than the tens of millions of dollars required to book an orbital journey in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.
For MacCallum and Poynter, Space Perspective is just the newest, far out-of-the-way endeavor. They took part in the Biosphere 2 closed-environment experiments in Arizona in the early 1990s, and founded Paragon Space Development Corp World View Enterprises in 1993, founded in 2012. (At the time, the projected ticket price was $ 75,000 .)
Two years later, Paragon and World View played a key role in Google manager Alan Eustace’s record-breaking stratospheric skydive. Eustace is a founding member of Space Perspective.
Last December, Space Perspective announced that it had completed a $ 7 million seed funding round for the development and early flights of the Neptune spacecraft. Prime Movers Lab and Base Ventures served as lead investors for this round – and motivational speaker Tony Robbins is one of the other investors in the venture.
This report is based on an entry in Cosmic Log, Alan Boyle’s blog about space, science, and society.
Leading image: An artist’s conception shows the spaceship Neptune capsule during a stratospheric tour. Source: Space Perspective.