While Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson are laying the basis for a future of space tourism, it’s possible that someone has already done it. Space Perspective has developed a notion that is astonishing in its simplicity: a rocket-free balloon flight to the furthest limits of the sky with minimum training and no stomach-twisting g-forces to contend with. “Our team worked really hard to fundamentally redefine a space travel experience,” says Space Perspective Co-CEO Jane Poynter, who is now unveiling the details of a journey aboard Spaceship Neptune, her company’s pressurized, climate-controlled passenger capsule.
Consider it a lounge—officially dubbed a “Space Lounge”—where you can relax in comfy seats or get up and roam about a space with floor lights, plants, a telescope, and interactive computer displays. It’s a versatile room that can accommodate up to eight people and a pilot and may be used for weddings or special occasion meals. The widest windows ever utilized in a spacecraft encircle it all. You may even look out the window in the restroom to see what’s going on.
Wi-Fi will also be available on the spaceship Neptune. So feel free to live-stream the whole journey and share selfies on social media. Don’t be concerned about selfies. Outside the capsule, Space Perspective is working on a means to take images of the occupants. The gloomy interior, which is lit by programmable LED mood lighting, is more than simply attractive. It’s also practical—and a far cry from the typical science-fiction portrayals of space flight.
“With so much light streaming in, you generally think of white interiors—very utilitarian and stark—but that’s the last thing you want,” Poynter adds, adding that the blackness absorbs the sunshine and decreases glare on the windows.
A lounge isn’t complete without beverages. To assist define the whole experience, David Grutman, the Miami hospitality expert behind restaurants like Komodo and nightclubs like LIV, was hired. That does, in fact, include a bar. So you can simply go up to the bar and request an Old Fashioned or a Gin & Tonic? Well, kind of. The bar will not be completely stocked, but it will feature passenger preferences that have been pre-determined, making it more akin to in-flight catering. Drinks are served in raised glasses and garnished with fresh herbs. And, since the aircraft departs early in the morning, you’ll definitely want to have some tea and coffee on hand, as well as some snacks.
Passengers will arrive at the Space Coast Spaceport in Cape Canaveral, Florida, a few days before the journey to be ready for the launch. The Space Coast Spaceport is next to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. There won’t be much training, but there will be a few briefings, immersive activities, a behind-the-scenes tour, and sometimes getting acquainted with the capsule’s interior. There isn’t a fancy spacesuit to be found. Passengers are free to wear anything they choose, however, Poynter thinks that suitable footwear will be required. She adds, “I don’t believe we want stiletto heels in there.”
The flights will take off before sunrise and travel at a comfortable speed of up to 12 miles per hour for two hours to reach a suborbital zone 100,000 feet above the Earth. Although it is technically below space, it is higher than 99 percent of the planet’s atmosphere. “We want to get folks up there before the sun rises so they can see the most incredible starscape,” Poynter explains. “The Milky Way will be seen in its entirety. The sun will then begin to rise over the bent horizon, which, based on the few photographs we’ve seen of sunrises up there, is ridiculous. You get these wacky hues.”
The capsule will glide for two more hours before descending for another two hours. Only the first and final 15 minutes of the voyage need passengers to be belted in. The spaceship Neptune will return to Earth with a splashdown in the water, precisely as it did when it took off and will be picked up by a luxury boat, which may have friends and family on board for a return party. Consider it the after-party.
It’s incredible how quickly the whole thing is coming together. In 2019, Poynter and Co-CEO Taber MacCallum formally established Space Perspective as a firm. Last year’s unmanned test flight was hailed as a “smashing success,” generating a lot of hype at CES this year, with the first piloted test scheduled for 2023. According to Space Perspective, bookings for the two years after its expected launch in late 2024 are virtually sold out. The program will begin slowly, with one flight every two weeks, and gradually increase. The fee is $125,000 per seat, including a $1,000 refundable deposit. Do you have the cash? Simply make a reservation on the internet.
A complete capsule was rented for a group of eight by John Upchurch, a travel agency owner, and former attorney. He’s previously seen every continent, so a trip aboard Spaceship Neptune seemed like a fun way to spend his vacation. “In the middle of the night, I prefer to backpack far away from ambient light and stare up at the stars,” he explains. “I believe it will be a life-changing experience to be at the edge of space for two hours, looking out and seeing the stars and other planets without light pollution.”
The notion is revolutionary, but the basic technology isn’t. Former NASA personnel are now collaborating with Space Perspective to take things in a new direction.
NASA has employed space balloons in some form for decades, and former employees are now working with Space Perspective to take things in a new direction. The Spaceship Neptune is also the only carbon-neutral mode of space travel. With the exception of the balloon, everything on the equipment is reusable. The material, on the other hand, maybe recycled to make new balloons. So, if you’re going to fly to the stars with a drink in your hand, make sure you’re on one of the few ships that prioritize the planet—even when leaving it.