Lucky travellers will get the chance to head to the edge of space in style aboard Spaceship Neptune, writes Zac de Silva.
With everything that has happened this year, leaving earth seems like a pretty good idea.
A new startup has announced that it’ll be helping its customers do just that, running balloon flights to the edge of space from 2024. Each six-hour trip will carry eight passengers plus a pilot on board the Spaceship Neptune, launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The pressurized capsule has been decked out with plush reclining seats and a refreshments bar, courtesy of innovative design studio PriestmanGoode, plus a loo with the best view in the universe. Because let’s face it – what’s the point of travelling all that way if you can’t do it in style?
“We wanted to make sure that passengers would be able to get 360-degree unobstructed views and that we created an efficient space that would enable them to move around during the journey,” Nigel Goode, co-founder of PriestmanGoode, said in a statement.
After its pre-dawn launch, the 100-metre-diameter balloon will lift the 4.5-tonne capsule more than 30 kilometres up into the atmosphere, taking two hours to reach the apex of its flight. From here, the eight “Explorers,” as Space Perspective calls them, will have two hours of cruising time, sitting above 99% of the earth’s atmosphere. The balloon and capsule will then gently descend, splashing down off the Florida coastline, where the craft and crew will be retrieved by a waiting ship.
And guests are in safe hands: Space Perspective’s co-founders Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum claim in a statement to have “led, developed or operated all human balloon flights to the edge of space in the last 50 years.” The pair’s previous business, Paragon Space Development Corporation, supplied life support equipment for more than 70 space missions, and MacCallum previously worked as chief safety officer at StratEx, a project that launched Google’s Senior Vice President of Engineering Alan Eustace into space and returned him by parachute to earth.
Currently flights are only open to members of Exclusive Resorts, a members-only vacation club, which hopes to send at least 40 of its members to space across five flights, starting in late 2024.
Unmanned test flights are set to begin early 2021.