Luxury space-tourism startup unveils test capsule


Space Perspective unveiled a test model of its Neptune pressurized capsule, which is designed to take passengers on a six-hour suborbital trip.
Courtesy of Space Perspective

  • An aerospace startup has unveiled the test capsule for its luxury space tourism experience.
  • Space Perspective’s Neptune will bring passengers on a six-hour flight to the edge of the stratosphere.
  • It’s the latest commercial spacecraft for suborbital flight, after Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin.

The latest offering in space tourism promises to be a lot less bumpy.

Space Perspective, a Florida-based startup, recently unveiled a test capsule for its new Neptune spacecraft. Neptune is expected to start carrying passengers into the stratosphere — using a massive balloon, instead of rockets — as early as next year.

The company touts the pressurized Neptune capsule as “the largest human spacecraft in operation” aside from space stations like the ISS. It also says Neptune is the third commercial suborbital spacecraft to ever be built, after Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo space plane and Blue Origin’s New Shepard crew capsule.

The test capsule, called “Excelsior” in honor of the US Air Force space-jump project of the same name, is fully functional but has not been fitted with the final interior design, Dezeen reported. Its onboard amenities are expected to include WiFi service, a cocktail bar, and even a toilet.

A rendering of Space Perspective’s planned interior for its Neptune capsule.
Space Perspective

“The space capsule is like nothing the world has ever seen,” cofounder Taber MacCallum said in a statement. “We are on the cusp of a staggering shift — not only in the way we humans experience space, but also what we conjure in our minds when we think of the spaceship that gets us there.”

Once in commercial operations, Neptune flights are expected to ferry eight passengers and a captain, which the company said will “set the record for the most people taken to the edge of space.”

Space Perspective plans to conduct its first manned test flights by the end of the year, and commercial flights for the 1,750 people holding tickets in 2025.

The unique experience — a six-hour, 18-mile-high balloon trip, rather than the relatively-short flights of its rocket-powered competitors — is what makes the $125,000 ticket worth it, the company says.

The SpaceBalloon
Courtesy of Space Perspective

“If you can get on a commercial airplane, you can get on Spaceship Neptune,” cofounder Jane Poynter said in an interview with Space.com. “That actually opens up the market enormously to people who otherwise don’t feel comfortable going on a rocket, or just simply can’t go on a rocket, but still want that extraordinary experience of seeing our Earth from space.” 

However, the company is still working to secure a hydrogen supplier for its balloon propulsion, Dezeen reported.



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