If you’re trying to avoid airborne viruses, heading to a near vacuum might not be the worst idea.
A Florida company is planning to fly passengers to the edge of space in a high-tech version of a hot air balloon, with a pilot and up to eight travelers riding in a pressurized capsule suspended from an enormous blimp. Human space flight company Space Perspective is now taking reservations on its Spaceship Neptune for flights in early 2024, with tickets priced firmly in the once-in-a-lifetime bracket at $125,000 per person. The refundable reservation deposits are tiered, with higher down payments needed for Year One flights and decreasing for later bookings.
The inaugural test flight took off on June 18 from the Space Coast Spaceport in Titusville, Florida. The six hour and 39-minute flight was uncrewed, but cameras on board captured a stunning image of the Earth at sunrise. Space Perspective says the test flight is a crucial milestone on its way to taking space tourists on leisurely sightseeing jaunts, with a refreshment bar and social media capabilities to hand. “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,” said Space Perspective founder and co-CEO Jane Poynter last year. While Space Perspective’s first flights will take off from Florida, the company is planning additional launch sites around the world.
The six-hour trips will involve a two-hour gentle ascent above 99% of the Earth’s atmosphere to 100,000 feet. There’ll then be another leisurely two hours for passengers to enjoy the 360-degree views from the cabin before the spaceship makes its two-hour descent to the ocean, where it will splash down safely. Voyage to shore will be completed by ship. The spaceship was designed in collaboration with UK design studio PriestmanGoode.