Space Perspective unveils the luxurious interior of a balloon-launched spaceflight experience


Space Perspective on Tuesday unveiled its Spaceship Neptune, a luxurious crew capsule designed to take travelers to the stratosphere – around 100,000 feet high – for around $125,000 per passenger. Photo courtesy of Space Perspective

ORLANDO, Fla., April 12 (UPI) — Want to be a space tourist but can’t spend tens of millions of dollars?

Space Perspective, a Florida-based space tourism company, is working on another option that’s in the six-figure range.

On Tuesday, the company provided a preview of the luxurious $125,000-per-ride accommodations its passengers will enjoy as they look at Earth from a vantage point that has been mostly limited to astronauts, the super-rich and the super-lucky.

Coinciding with the anniversary of the first manned spaceflight, the company has released artist illustrations of the interior of its crew capsule, called Spaceship Neptune. The ship is named after the Roman god of the sea and the eighth planet in the solar system.

Passengers boarding will enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view of Earth from the far reaches of space.

Started by Jane Poynter and Taber Macallum, the company plans to offer hot air balloon rides in the far reaches of the atmosphere as an alternative to the rocket-powered flights of Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin.

“Our team has really worked hard to completely redesign the spaceflight experience,” Space Perspective co-CEO Jane Poynter told UPI.

Poynter said that while researching their spacecraft design, she and Macallum spoke to several astronauts who say the weightlessness — which passengers don’t experience during travel — can distract some people.

Their dream is to encourage more people to be good stewards of the Earth, which Poynter wants these flights to accomplish.

Almost go to space

Space Perspective hopes to revolutionize the space tourism industry by offering a six-hour hot air balloon flight at around $125,000 per passenger.

Passengers won’t have mandatory training, as Poynter says the experience is more like a commercial flight than a rocket.

Passengers will board before dawn, strap into the pressurized, climate-controlled capsule, and then fly to a height of 100,000 feet.

The ship glides for two hours on the edge of space, offering a rare view of Earth and the vastness of space, before plunging into the ocean. From there, a ship will pick up the passengers, the capsule and the SpaceBalloon.

Each trip can accommodate up to 8 passengers and the seats are customizable, offering at least two different configurations, including reclining seats or sofas – and both include champagne.

Other catering services will be offered, including special mood lighting that will help passengers see the crown jewel of the experience: the curvature of the Earth against the blackness of space.

The capsule will also include toilets and a “Space Lounge” with telescope, interactive screens and other decorations.

Make the space more comfortable

Poynter describes the Spaceship Neptune experience as a more natural and welcoming environment designed to help passengers feel more connected to the Earth below.

The flights will depart from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, with passengers overlooking the huge Vehicle Assembly Building – which is about as tall as the balloon – and the historic launch pads as it climbs above of the earth.

Poynter says commercial flights are expected to begin in 2024, and she hopes to be among the first to fly. There are about 600 people already on the waiting list, she said.

“Our mission is to inspire space explorers to connect more closely with our planet and each other,” Poynter said. “The environment in which they travel with us is a key part of that.”

The International Space Station is pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavor during a flyby of the orbiting laboratory that took place after it undocked from the space-facing port of the Harmony module on November 8. Photo courtesy of NASA