French engineered Céleste is an ultra-luxe silver space balloon that features chic neutral interiors, Michelin-starred in-flight meals and the largest panoramic windows on the market. Olivia Palamountain reports

Joining space balloons from likes of Japanese start-up Iwaya Giken, Stratoflight and Space Perspective is Céleste, a design-conscious capsule from Zephalto.

Billing itself as “the world’s first luxury space travel experience”, Céleste is the result of a collaboration between Paris-based architect and designer Joseph Dirand and Zephalto Founder, Vincent Farret d’Astiès.

Elegant and sculptural, Céleste is a beauty. She is finished in silver – a conscious choice so that the capsule reflects its environment in order to blend seamlessly with the surroundings – and features three wide-angle windows to usher in an endless panorama. Zephalto - Celeste Zephalto - Celeste“This silver finish allows the capsule to reflect these two universes towards which we will find ourselves in a way that is a little in between. Between these two universes, the terrestrial universe and the celestial universe,” says Joseph Dirand.

Inside the 20 sqm Céleste, expect soothing tones of understated beige for “a residential feel, one that envelopes passengers in comfort, luxury and security”, elevated with eco-conscious, innovative and performance driven materials.

Comprising three individual cabins, each conceived as intimate cocoons for two, with ambient lighting and adjustable furniture, guests will be able to lounge, dine and enjoy interactive and meditative elements in the capsule. Zephalto - CelesteA warm and convivial atmosphere extends throughout the experience: each traveller will receive tailor-made offerings, including Michelin-starred cuisine upon request, in collaboration with French chefs who will create exclusive dishes focused on molecular and experimental cuisine.

Meals will be served adjacent to the panoramic windows (the largest currently on the market), so guests need not miss a moment of the action or the chance to witness the Earth’s spectacular spherical curve.

The symmetrical composition of the capsule and gentle rotation during the flight, ensures a 360-degree view and a fully immersive experience. Wifi will also be available onboard.

The luxury pressurised capsule will depart from France and is lifted by a stratospheric balloon. Two pilots control the craft, which can accommodate up to six guests.

The ascent up to 25km from the Earth will take an hour and a half, with total flight time at six hours – including three hours at top altitude, some 15 km above airliners. The descent will last an hour and a half.

No physical or pre-flight training is needed from guests and the experience is accessible to all ages and physical conditions.

Set to launch in late 2024, a limited quantity of pre-reservation tickets can be purchased here at €120,000 per person.

The balloon, which is the size of the Sacré Coeur in Paris, has been crafted by the team at Zephalto using key innovative technologies, particularly a reusable envelope. (Globetrender can’t help but wonder if the recent tragedy of the OceanGate Titan submersible that went in search of the Titanic will put people off. After all, it proved billionaires can die too.)Zephalto - CelesteThat said, safety is a key priority – the technology is based on Zephalto’s historical partner, the CNES, which has been sending balloons into the stratosphere for over 60 years. Additional partners include CNES and La Region Occitanie.

Vincent Farret d’Astiès, Zephalto founder and chief pilot, says: “I am thrilled to have built the bridge between my dream of space travel and reality. Those who share my desire to travel in harmony with the elements and sun & wind, can finally do so onboard Céleste.

“Our expert team has been working very hard to create a vessel that the Montgolfier brothers would have been proud of. After seven years of working on the approach, design and technical solutions, the concept is now palpable and will offer an extraordinarily immersive experience that will stage our Earth and Space.”

Above and beyond their leisure travel experience, Zephalto’s ambition has always included a scientific mission. Zephalto’s flights will pave the way for new services in the stratosphere, including data collection about Earth and the atmosphere, new experimental procedures and telecommunication systems.