You Can Now Buy Tickets to Travel to Space in a Gigantic Luxury Balloon with Champagne and WiFi
Six-figure tickets already going fast.
If you're interested in becoming a space tourist, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk won't be your only options. The industry is heating up, and the latest entrant is a company in Florida that plans to send travelers into space using massive balloons. Florida-based Space Perspective is buying unused ships to turn them into "floating spaceports," the Daily Mail reported this week.
Its first acquisition is a 292-foot-long shipping vessel that will, the company says, become the world's first "marine spaceport" for human spaceflight. From those ports, Space Perspective plans to launch Space Neptune, a luxury passenger capsule that will be lofted into space by a balloon that's the size of a football stadium. Read on find out what the flight experience will be like, when flights are slated to start, and how much they'll cost.
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Each Space Neptune capsule is designed to take up to eight passengers on a six-hour flight into the stratosphere, or about 19 miles above the Earth's surface. During the flight, guests can glimpse a 360-degree view of our home planet while taking advantage of an onboard bar, wi-fi, and bathroom.
Each ticket costs $125,000 and can be reserved for a $1,000 deposit. While flights are scheduled to begin in 2024, the full year is already booked. The earliest seats are available starting in 2025.
Instead of a violent rocket liftoff, Space Perspective promises a gentle experience as the passenger capsule rises into the stratosphere at 12 miles an hour, lifted by a giant hydrogen-filled balloon. Passengers will be able to see 450 miles in every direction, and walk around, talk, eat, and drink during the ascent and flight. Peak altitude is reached in about two hours when the darkness of space and the curvature of Earth will be visible.
During the flight, passengers can enjoy an onboard breakfast and cocktails from reclining seats and snap photos from non-glare windows. The journey back to earth will be enabled by a "splash cone" at the craft's base, which is intended to provide a "smooth and gentle water landing." Boats then lift the craft back onto the floating spaceport.
"Space Perspective will change your relationship with our planet by providing the quintessential astronaut experience of viewing Earth from the blackness of space," said company co-founder Jane Poynter. "Removing geographic borders for launch and landing accelerates our mission of making this transformative experience more accessible to the world and international marketplace—safely, reliably, and with minimal impact on our planet."
She added: "We always imagined offering the opportunity to view the most incredible natural phenomena from space, including the Northern Lights, the boot of Italy, the sheer scale of the Nile Delta, and the deep blue seas around the Bahamas."
Space Perspective has been selling flights since the summer of 2021. About 900 tickets have already been reserved. According to the company, some customers have booked capsules for group events and weddings. Last June, one of the company's test vehicles successfully launched from a spaceport near Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
It was in flight for six hours and 39 minutes, reached a maximum altitude of 108,409 feet and splashed down on target in the Gulf of Mexico, where it was retrieved.
In the space tourism field, Space Perspective's competitors include Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin. Those companies plan to offer flights on suborbital spacecraft, which will take passengers higher than Spaceship Neptune but for much shorter durations. A ride on Blue Origin will last just 11 minutes from liftoff to landing.
Those flights will also be more expensive. Virgin Galactic recently said a ticket on its six-seat VSS Unity spacecraft will cost $250,000. Both Blue Origin and Virgin haven't announced their first scheduled flights but say they will take place soon; test flights are currently ongoing.