Space Perspective, a Florida-based startup plans to send humans to nearly the edge of outer space (Kármán line) using a hydrogen-filled balloon. Co-founders Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum are the masterminds behind designing the spaceship Neptune for this mission. Previously, they designed the air, food, and water systems for Biosphere 2. This was the most advanced prototype space base ever built and operated.  

Spaceship Neptune is designed in collaboration with UK design studio PriestmanGoode. This design company is also working on a passenger module concept for Elon Musk’s Hyperloop transport system. The company officially opened its Launch Operations Center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in June 2020. But unlike most of its competitors – Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, it isn’t using rockets or space planes to bring people to space. 

Space Perspective intends to launch from Florida’s Cecil Spaceport and is planning additional launch sites around the world, including Kodiak in Alaska. Spaceship Neptune’s test flights will start early in 2021.

Image courtesy: Space Perspective Official Website
Image courtesy: Space Perspective Official Website

Journey experience in Spaceship Neptune 

The latest CNN report states that the company will be using a high-tech version of a hot air balloon, with a pilot and up to eight travelers riding in the spaceship. The capsule is five meters in diameter, while the balloon above has a 100-meter diameter when fully inflated, which is about the length of a football field. The design is derived from the same technology NASA has used for decades in its large research telescopes. 

The company wants to fly customers up to 100,000 feet, or close to 19 miles high. It’s a much lower altitude than what many consider to be the edge of space at 50 miles up. The entire journey will last for six hours, with two hours spent hovering above the Earth. This will involve gentle ascent above 99% of the Earth’s atmosphere. To get to the stratosphere, passengers will ride inside a spherical white capsule that looks a bit like a spinning top, with wide glass windows providing a clear view of the Earth below. The “propellant” will be a massive translucent balloon filled with hydrogen, ascending at a pace of 12 miles per hour. 

With long and wide windows, passengers can have a spectacular view of the Earth and beyond. Moreover, Spaceship Neptune will have a cool refreshment bar and luxe bathrooms for an amazing experience. There will also be a Wi-Fi connection for passengers who want to share/post photos from the sky! How cool is that? 

Hold your breath for this now… if people want to have special events onboard like weddings, there will be other special arrangements!

It is now possible to reserve seats on the Space Perspective website at an estimated cost of $125,000 for a ticket.

Safety measures in Spaceship Neptune

For each trip, one pilot in the craft will ensure the journey is smooth and uninterrupted. Additionally, the Neptune capsule will have a life support system and pressure control for the safety of passengers. Though the vehicle will mostly be flown by people on the ground, the designated pilot on board can assist customers if some kind of problem arises. For any kind of leak or failure, a reserve parachute will be on hand to bring the capsule down safely.

Spaceship Neptune’s operation

Like NASA’s Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo capsules, as well as SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, Spaceship Neptune will gently land in the sea. By letting out some hydrogen to make the balloon lighter than air, the space capsule will gradually descend to a splashdown in either the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. As per the New Atlas report, launches will be regulated by the FAA Office of Commercial Spaceflight. Apart from passengers, the flights will also include research-related payloads.

The idea is to give people a spectacular rare view of Earth from the stratosphere, without having to strap into a rocket and shoot up into the sky at thousands of miles an hour. 

Space Neptune Concept Image
Space Neptune Concept Image

What holds for the future of Spaceship Neptune?

Space Perspective still has very big plans for the future. Poynter and MacCallum say their Neptune capsule will be reusable. Ultimately, they plan to fly up to 100 flights a year. They also claim that ticket prices will be lower in comparison to other space tourism ventures.

Furthermore, the CEO of Alaska Aerospace Corp – Mark Lester states that high-altitude rides will be available from Kodiak in a few years to foster Alaska tourism. “You will have people from around the world who want to come to Alaska and see the northern lights from the edge of space,” he quoted. Space Perspective plans to use the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak to serve as one of the launch sites. 

Concept image of Northern Lights experience from Spaceship Neptune (Image courtesy of Alaska Aerospace and Space)
Concept image of northern lights experience from Spaceship Neptune (Image courtesy: Alaska Aerospace)

As per Space Perspective’s marketing research, roughly 2 million people would be interested in their balloon trips. With this, the market is worth a quarter of a trillion dollars.

“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” – Taber MacCallum.

Discover more!

Visit the official website: https://thespaceperspective.com/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/theSpacePerspective/

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