Space

Florida startup plans balloon rides to the edge of space

Florida startup plans balloon ...
The Spaceship Neptune capsule, pictured here cruising 100,000 feet (30,480 m) above Earth
The Spaceship Neptune capsule, pictured here cruising 100,000 feet (30,480 m) above Earth
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Up to eight passengers (plus a pilot) would start by boarding the company's Spaceship Neptune pressurized capsule
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Up to eight passengers (plus a pilot) would start by boarding the company's Spaceship Neptune pressurized capsule
Flights would initially lift off from the NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
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Flights would initially lift off from the NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
The flights would last six hours
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The flights would last six hours
Spaceship Neptune flights should initially be about half the price of existing sub-orbital flights, which cost around $125,000 per passenger
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Spaceship Neptune flights should initially be about half the price of existing sub-orbital flights, which cost around $125,000 per passenger
The Spaceship Neptune capsule, pictured here cruising 100,000 feet (30,480 m) above Earth
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The Spaceship Neptune capsule, pictured here cruising 100,000 feet (30,480 m) above Earth
View gallery - 5 images

In recent years, people have used balloons to carry items ranging from teddy bears to chicken sandwiches to the edge of outer space. Now, Cape Canaveral, Florida-based startup Space Perspective has announced its plans to do the same thing with paying human passengers.

When and if the service is up and running, up to eight passengers (plus a pilot) would start by boarding the company's Spaceship Neptune pressurized capsule, before sunrise. They would do so at the Shuttle Landing Facility, located at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, although additional launch sites may be added in places like Hawaii and Alaska.

Over the following two hours, an attached "football stadium-length" balloon would lift the Neptune up to an altitude of 100,000 feet (30,480 m). This is above 99 percent of Earth's atmosphere, where the curvature of the planet and the blackness of outer space are clearly visible.

The capsule would proceed to cruise at this height for two more hours, before taking another two to descend back down again – the latter would be accomplished by gradually releasing gas from the balloon. Both the capsule and the balloon would end the six-hour flight by splashing down in the ocean, where a ship would pick them and the passengers up. And yes, the Neptune would have a bathroom, along with a refreshments bar.

Flights would initially lift off from the NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
Flights would initially lift off from the NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

According to Space Perspective, the launches would be regulated by the FAA Office of Commercial Spaceflight. Along with paying passengers, the flights could also include research-related payloads. In fact, that's what will be aboard the first un-crewed test flight, scheduled to take place in early 2021.

Interested parties can reserve a seat now via the Source link below. A representative tells us that pricing should be announced within a year, and that it should initially be about half the price of existing sub-orbital flights, which cost around US$125,000 per passenger, with the goal of reducing prices over time.

"Following the return of human spaceflight from US soil just a few weeks ago, people have never been more excited about space travel," says company founder Taber MacCallum, who previously worked as Chief Technology Officer on the StratEx program. "Few endeavors are more meaningful than enabling people to experience the inspiring perspective of our home planet in space for the betterment of all, and that’s what we are accomplishing."

Source: Space Perspective

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16 comments
f8lee
Interesting concept - the lower priced (and less physically jarring) version of getting up there - plus you get 2 hours rather than the 15 minutes Virgin Galactic is offering...
Nobody
It would be nice to observe the black sky and see the curvature of the earth. However, the curvature of the earth has been observed since the earliest sailing days when ships seemed to rise out of the water on the horizon as they came closer, They also seemed to sink as they sailed away. I'm sure that sailors had a pretty good idea that the earth was round long ago.
pSynrg
I'll just enjoy the experience in VR, thank you very much.
JeremyH
This is naive. Ballooning in the stratosphere is still in the realms of exploration. It is considerably less tested than space flight. Ballooning sounds easier than rocket science, but is it?
David V
Think the first trip up should be free for members of the Flat Earth Society...
JuanAgudelo
And how far from the starting point will you be after about 6 hours of drifting away? In which direction?
Howard Chin
I'm surprised that 9 people would each pay $125.000 to go up that far suspended by a hydrogen balloon. Maybe US patent 9,739,567 has a future as a tourist attraction after all. It wouldn't dump the lift gas at the end of each flight, and you could stay up there as long as they'd let you.
kwalispecial
Looks very cool and I wish I could do it, but I'll probably have to wait for a space elevator to bring prices down.
AlainGassmann
Using up that huge amount of valuable and limited Helium for each launch seems like the worst kind of excess.
And that for 'cheap' thrills for millionaires?
Please tell me that it will use green produced hydrogen! It would add to the thrill factor...!
Tacky-on
Makes me want to see Adventures of Baron Munchausen again. They had a balloon scene in it that went just a little farther than that!