Space balloon company will add ship-based launches beyond Kennedy Space Center – Orlando Sentinel

The company that plans to launch space tourists on a balloon from Kennedy Space Center is currently working to expand flight operations to a fleet of ships it can deploy around the world.

Space Perspective, which is headquartered in facilities adjacent to the former shuttle landing facility at KSC, announced Tuesday that it has acquired the first ship for the effort, named MS Voyager.

Called “the world’s first marine spaceport”, the name pays homage to Voyager I, the satellite launched in 1977 which, at the request of the famous astronomer Carl Sagan, took a photo of the Earth in 1990, which has since been called the pale blue dot. .

“Space Perspective will change your relationship with our planet by providing the ultimate astronaut experience of seeing Earth from the darkness of space,” Jane Poynter, Founder and Co-CEO of Space Perspective said in a press release. “It is imperative for us to think about our business with a global mindset. Removing geographic boundaries for launch and landing accelerates our mission to make this transformative experience more accessible to the world and to the international marketplace – safely, reliably and with minimal impact on our planet.

While the balloon’s initial launches are planned from KSC in 2024, it is expected to use its ship to offer flights to take advantage of “famous world events” and allow views of some of the “most iconic geographies”. of the world, depending on the version.

“We have always imagined providing the ability to view the most incredible natural phenomena from space, including the Northern Lights, the boot of Italy, the scale of the Nile Delta and the deep blue seas around of the Bahamas. Marine spaceports like MS Voyager make that a reality,” Poynter said.

The first flights, which cost $125,000 per passenger, will take up to eight guests on six-hour flights that travel up to 20 miles above the Earth’s surface in a capsule called Spaceship Neptune offering 360 views. degrees while suspended from a 650 foot high balloon.

The company conducted an uncrewed test flight in 2021 that crossed Florida and landed in the Gulf of Mexico, reaching an altitude of 108,409 feet. The company plans a crewed test flight in 2023. It aims to fly 25 flights in its first year of operation. US-based flights are subject to approval by the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Flight.

The company said the shift to ship-based launches provides mobility to avoid bad weather, timely launches to take advantage of sunrises, sunsets and stargazing, and year-round operations that will allow to more customers. The company said more than 1,000 customers have already signed up for its first scheduled flights from KSC.

The 292-foot-long vessel will be based in Port Canaveral after being outfitted at the Conrad Shipyard in Louisiana to enable launch and recovery of the company’s balloons. The company plans to use the ship in 2023 for the next test flights.

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