Commercial space explorers just got a new mode of transportation.
The latest company to toss their hat into the ring is Space Perspective. Paying customers will be able to ascend to the stratosphere via its Spaceship Neptune. The hot air balloon-inspired ship is set to begin test flights in early 2021.
The craft’s unique design uses a giant 650-foot-tall buoyant hydrogen-filled balloon to float up to a maximum altitude of 100,000 feet. The trip upward takes two hours, then Space Neptune will remain in the stratosphere for another two hours before descending to Earth. Each time the capsule is launched it will need a new balloon for every mission.
“We’re committed to fundamentally changing the way people have access to space — both to perform much-needed research to benefit life on Earth and to affect how we view and connect with our planet,” Space Perspective founder and co-CEO Jane Poynter said, according to Live Science.
Spaceship Neptune has room for a pilot and eight passengers. The luxury expedition has seats, a bar and massive windows so travelers can get a full view of Earth. It will launch from the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and be recovered from the sea by a boat once it has returned.
While the price tag has not yet been set, Poynter estimates the trip will cost about $125,000 per ticket. The cost is still significantly less expensive than its competitor Virgin Galactic. Space Perspective’s larger mission is to make space more accessible, which includes those who are older or have physical disabilities.
“Everybody should be able to see the Earth from space,” Poynter said.
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