Space Perspective, a new space tourism company, has announced its plans to take passengers and research payloads to the Earth’s stratosphere using a space balloon and pressurized capsule. Spaceship Neptune, as it is known, will take up to eight passengers and one pilot on a six-hour round trip from the ground, up to 100,000 feet (30.5 kilometers) in the Earth’s atmosphere, before splashing back down into the ocean ready for retrieval. Although no price point has been set in stone yet, Space Perspective's CEOs have reportedly suggested that tickets will initially be sold for around $125,000.
“Following the return of human spaceflight from US soil just a few weeks ago, people have never been more excited about space travel,” founder and Co-CEO Taber MacCallum said in a statement. “Few endeavors are more meaningful than enabling people to experience the inspiring perspective of our home planet in space for the betterment of all, and that’s what we are accomplishing with Space Perspective.”
Alluding to the “overview effect”, the sensation of witnessing planet Earth from space, MacCallum and co-CEO Jane Poynter want to make this experience accessible to as many people as possible. “Today, it is more crucial than ever to see Earth as a planet, a spaceship for all humanity and our global biosphere,” Poynter said.
With an uncrewed test flight scheduled in early 2021, Spaceship Neptune is first set to launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, but sites such as Cecil Spaceport, Florida, and others in Alaska, Hawaii and internationally, are also a possibility in the future. Each onboard “explorer” to make the journey will join an exclusive group of fewer than 20 people who have so far reached Earth’s stratosphere in a space balloon.
Roughly the size of a football pitch, Spaceship Neptune’s space balloon will be filled with hydrogen, and will transport space tourists and scientific payloads above 99 percent of Earth’s atmosphere, over twice as high as commercial jets fly. But, according to the Space Perspective website, the experience will be “as simple as boarding a plane.” The capsule itself provides a “shirt-sleeve” environment, a refreshments bar, access to social media, and the all-important lavatory.
If this out-of-this-world experience has whet your appetite (and you have a spare few hundred thousand), then you can reserve a seat on Spaceship Neptune now.