The space tourism industry is taking off – and while the focus has been on rocket-powered efforts like SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission or Blue Origin’s attempts to rid the world of Pete Davidson, there are those who take less traditional approach.
Such is the case with Space Perspective, a company that plans to use balloons to send people into space…sort of. For the low price of $125,000, you can sit on a luxury capsule dubbed the Spaceship Neptune where you can drink cocktails, eat hors d’oeuvres and laugh at all the plebeians on land from the stratosphere. Of course, that’s just the edge of space, but it’s damn close.
The capsule itself will offer a full panoramic view of Earth and the surrounding cosmos, with a comfortable seating area, a bar, and even a restroom (you’ll be drinking after all). The entire experience lasts six hours, or just over $20,800 an hour for those following.
After reaching the stratosphere and seeing the sun rise over the horizon, the balloon would then descend towards Earth, taking a safe dip in the ocean where a boat would be waiting to pick up any new space tourists. The maiden flight is scheduled to take off from Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida in 2024.
While certainly a unique, albeit nerve-wracking, method of space travel, balloons have actually been used to study the upper parts of the atmosphere for decades. They’ve even been used to send humans to the far reaches of space, like when Austrian parachutist Felix Baumgartner used a helium balloon to soar into the stratosphere before returning to Earth in 2012.
In fact, the balloon the company uses and develops – creatively named SpaceBalloon – is a “type and design that NASA has flown for many years,” said Taber MacCallum, co-founder and co-CEO of Space Perspective. , to the Daily Beast. With it, he said the flight will provide the “zero emissions way to travel in space” in a “warm, inviting and safe environment”.
The method also cuts the price compared to other space tourism efforts like the recent Axiom mission, which cost its billionaire crew $55 million. After all, Space Perspective won’t have to spend money on the fuel and technology needed to send a person into space. You also don’t need to train as much as an astronaut.
“It was really the culmination of figuring out how to get the ultimate astronaut experience without having to spend $55 million on a rocket to get into orbit,” MacCallum said. “I mean, I’m totally into what other people are doing. It’s just a different approach – very gentle, very approachable, and plenty of time from a six-hour flight.
Along with the promise of luxury space travel, the company is also selling customers an experience called the Overview Effect. It’s a phrase that describes a psychological shift often reported by astronauts who have seen Earth from space and who say it has helped them gain a true understanding of the planet’s fragility and cosmic insignificance.
“That sense of scale seems to be a really important aspect of understanding the size of our Earth,” MacCallum explained. “And that provides the context, we’re all one human family on this Earth stuck in the middle of space.”
This is what puts the perspective from the spatial perspective. MacCallum even added that the experiment is deep enough that it could have a global impact if world leaders participated. He added that he would be interested in organizing a guest list of these tourists. “You can have a politician, you can have the Dalai Lama, you can have the pope,” he said.
It’s pretty abstract, but the overview effect is exactly why some tourists shell out big bucks to go on the trip. “It’s expensive, sure, but it’s more affordable than a $55 million ticket for a 10-day mission to the International Space Station,” said Roman Chiporukha, luxury travel consultant and Space Perspective client, at the Daily Beast.
“Although you don’t get weightlessness, I think you can see the sun rising over the curvature of the Earth,” he added. “I think it’s going to be an incredible feeling to be able to see our planet this way. You see it suspended in the darkness of the cosmos. It’s incredible.”
While The Daily Beast was unable to verify how many customers like Chiporukha have booked a ride with Space Perspective, representatives from World View – a company offering a similar space balloon experience – told us that it had already obtained more than 1,000 reservations for the future. rise to the stratosphere. So the demand for this kind of space tourism is definitely there, and when it’s offered at a lower price – not to mention with far less training – it creates a big draw for anyone who wants to play astronaut but doesn’t have $55 spare. millions lying around.
So if and when Space Perspective lifts off, it will mark a new era for space tourism: one that’s cheaper, requires less training, and lets you relax with a martini while you do it.