Florida-based company Space Perspective is now taking bookings for zero-emission rides into space aboard Spaceship Neptune, a capsule attached to a giant helium balloon. Jenny Southan reports
One June 18, 2021, Space Perspective announced that its Neptune One spaceship test vehicle successfully launched from the Space Coast Spaceport, located adjacent to NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
A few days later, the company said ticket sales were open for balloon rides into the Earth’s atmosphere in late 2024. When we checked today, 300 seats had been sold and now reservations were being made for 2025. Securing a seat costs requires a US$1,000 refundable deposit.
“Introducing a new era in luxury travel experiences, Space Perspective reimagines the thrill of space exploration with the world’s most radically gentle voyage to space,” the company says.Once at its maximum height of 20 miles, passengers will get 360-degree views of the Earth, as well as a chance to see the blackness of space through “vast” windows. Journeys aboard Spaceship Neptune will take six hours, propelled by a state-of-the-art space balloon the size of a football stadium.
All eight passengers will be accommodated in “plush” reclining seats in a “beautifully appointed” capsule, complete with a bathroom and a bar serving champagne. Tickets cost US$125,000 each.
Space Perspective says: “Cultivating group or solo experiences to space potentially mark extraordinary events with a setting to match: couples might well get hitched with a small circle of family, introducing a whole new dimension on nuptials.
“Others may relish the opportunity to celebrate a milestone birthday or even choose to take the company get-together to new heights. Space Perspective is currently developing an end-to-end bespoke journey to ensure every moment of every trip is special, personalised, and comfortable.”Founded by pioneering entrepreneurs and space travel experts Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum, Space Perspective says it wants more people to experience the life-changing views from space that to date have only been accessible to astronauts – making it possible by applying flight technology also used extensively by NASA.
People who would have considered space travel either too risky or expensive, will soon have the opportunity to experience it with a “safe and gentle ascent” to the edge of space, where they will have two hours to take it all in. Each Space Perspective capsule will have a pilot on board with a co-pilot on the ground.Space Perspective says: “Unlike the physically grueling and eye wateringly expensive space rockets, there’s minimal preparation nor physical demands for guests. Spaceship Neptune rewrites the engineering playbook, as it doesn’t use rocket propulsion nor engender g-force acceleration.
“While exhilarating in its own right, this is an invitation to experience a profoundly different perspective that is the most visceral reminder of how interconnected we are, not just with each other, but with all living organisms – boundaries and differences disappear.
“It’s a powerful, moving and expansive perspective that enlightens the human consciousness, the quintessential astronaut experience.”
What’s even more impressive is that Spaceship Neptune promises zero-emission spaceflight and is therefore sustainable.
The company says that the “draw of more accessible space travel is big business”. According to commissioned reports by leading international management consultancy firms, the total addressable market is worth US$250 billion to US$700 billion.